The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has sounded the death knell for the Nanakshahi calendar finally by publishing a version that bears the stamp of the lunar-based traditional Bikrami calendar that Sikhs followed before 2003.
Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh on Saturday released this new calendar here as Nanakshahi Samat 547 (2015-16) at his office in the Golden Temple complex. It coincided with the first day of the first month of Chet of the Sikh new year.
Notwithstanding the similarity of the new calendar with the Bikrami datebook, the Jathedar took the courage to claim that "it is a Nanakshahi calendar in letter and spirit, and all Sikhs must celebrate or observe their historic and religious occasions for the current year in accordance with it". When media sought to know whether the calendar was Bikrami or Nanakshahi, he got agitated and replied: "How many times do have I to say that it is Nanakshahi, and only Nanakshahi."
However when reference was made to the similarity with the Bikrami calendar that is in circulation currently, the jathedar avoided giving a reply. He, however, denied that there he or the SGPC had made any attempt to bury the Nanakshahi calendar. "This calendar (the one released on Saturday) is only for Nanakshahi Samat 547. The calendar for the next year (from March 14, 2016) will be based on the report of the soon-to-be-formed committee to sort out the issue," he said, indicating that the committee will be asked to give its report by 2015-end.
Takht Keshgarh Sahib jathedar Giani Mal Singh; Takht Damdama Sahib acting jathedar Giani Gurmukh Singh; Harmandir Sahib priests Giani Raghbir Singh and Giani Gurminder Singh; SGPC officials Roop Singh, Manjit Singh, and Daljit Singh Bedi; and Golden Temple manager Partap Singh were present.
Hard to read
Printed in Gurmukhi, the calendar says "Nanakshahi Samat 547" right at the top. Even the date numerals are in Punjabi and Hindi, in scripts that only a few people in the modern age would be able to read. A vast majority of Sikhs would prefer consulting the common calendar.
Claiming that the SGPC and the jathedar had "killed" the Nanakshahi calendar, Dal Khalsa spokesman Kanwar Pal Singh said: "The community has been cheated. Nanakshahi calendar gave us an independent identity, which this calendar has buried secretly."
He also held the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leadership responsible, saying the proposed committee to resolve the issue was mere eyewash. "By the new calendar, there will be no Parkash Utsav (birth anniversary) of Guru Gobind Singh in 2015. The occasion is listed for Magh 3 (January 16, 2016). The martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev, which was in June one last year, will now be on May 22. The Parkash Utsav of Guru Ram Das, which was on October 9 last year, is on October 29 this year," he added.
The Parkash Utsav of Guru Granth Sahib, celebrated on September 1 since 2004 by the original Nanakshahi calendar, will now be celebrated on September 14. The martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadur, which Nanakshahi calendar fixed on November 24, now will fall on December 16. The Gurta Gaddi Divas (coronation day) of Guru Granth Sahib has been changed from October 25 to November 13.
SAD (Delhi) president Paramjit Singh Sarna also accused the SGPC and the Akal Takht jathedar of "burying" the Nanakshahi calendar under pressures from Punjab's ruling family of the Badals.