Akal Takht jathedar’s calendar fails to unite Sikhs

  • Harkirat Singh, Hindustan Times, Amritsar
  • Updated: Mar 15, 2015 23:56 IST

A calendar Nanakshahi in name and Bikrami in character has failed to unite the Sikhs.A day after Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh released it here, a section said it wouldn’t follow a disguised version of the lunar-based Bikrami (Hindu) calendar that the community had moved on from in 2003. The jathedar may have asked the community to follow it until another version comes out next year based on conflict-resolution committee report, but the direction has made little effect.

First to reject his calendar, Sikh radical group Dal Khalsa and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi) have accused Giani Gurbachan Singh and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) of betraying Sikhs by taking away their independent identity that the introduction of the Nanakshahi calendar in 2003 had given them.

Sikhs in the US, Canada, England, and a few other countries also are unlikely to follow the Akal Takht directions. In 2010, these groups had opposed amendments to the 2003 Nanakshahi calendar by which they have been scheduling their festivals. “The community split when the calendar was amended and an effort was made to kill the Nanakshahi spirit. This new calendar will only widen the rift,” said Dal Khasa spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh.

On the day the jathedar released his “new-look” calendar, Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) president Sham Singh released the “original-version” Nanakshahi calendar at Nanakana Sahib, and communicated it to the Indian media on Sunday. Pakistani Sikhs are following it since 2003.
The Pakistani committee had declined to follow the 2010 version; and appeals by the Akal Takht and the visit of SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar last year had failed to convince it.

Pakistan issues visas to Indian Sikh pilgrims in accordance with the 2003 calendar, and last year, they reached Lahore in the second week of June to observe the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev, only to find that it had passed there on June 1.

On Monday, a group of NRI Sikhs from Britain will release the “original-version” Nanakshahi calendar in Jalandhar. NRI Rajinder Singh Purewal, who announced it, is a nephew of Pal Singh Purewal, designer of the 2003 Nanakshahi calendar. “We have the consent of Purewal, who has rejected the Bikrami-look calendar released by the (Akal Takht) jathedar,” he said. Purewal is unlikely to be on the committee that the Akal Takht proposes to resolve the calendar controversy.

Nananshahi calendar better: Jagir Kaur

Chandigarh: Former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Bibi Jagir Kaur on Sunday said the original Nanakshahi calendar was better and had been accepted by the Sikhs. However, sensing that the remarks could generate controversy, she also claimed that the new calendar, released on Saturday with the approval of the Akal Takht, should be acceptable to all.

“There should be no confusion, the community should celebrate gurpurabs and other religious days on the same day,” she added, claiming that some changes in maryada could be carried out, but a change in Gurbani could not be made.

Those in favour

Akal Takht: The jathedar of the highest temporal seat of Sikhs has asked the community to follow the new calendar until final conflict resolution next year

SGPC: Its president, Avtar Sikh Makkar, failed to convince the Pakistani counterpart last year, and pilgrims had to suffer

Those against

Pakistani Sikhs: Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Sham Singh released the 2003-version Nanakshahi calendar at Nanakana Sahib on Sunday

NRIs from Britain: Led by Rajinder Singh Purewal, nephew of 2003 Nanakshahi calendar maker Pal Singh Purewal, they will release their own calendar in Jalandhar today

Dal Khalsa and SAD (Delhi): Have alleged attempt to kill the Nanakshahi spirit.

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