The Sant Samaj, a conglomerate of a number of Sikh religious groups and sects, has called upon the Akal Takht to replace the Nanakshahi calendar with the traditional Bikrami calendar, which was followed by the Sikh community before the Sikh calendar came into being in 2003.
“The Nanakshahi calendar, be it the original version of 2003 or the revised one of 2010, has only caused confusion among the Sikhs”, the Sant Samaj said in a memorandum that was handed over to Akal Takht jathedar, Giani Gurbachan Singh, here on Monday.
The memorandum was handed to the jathedar by Sant Samaj chairman Baba Harnam Singh Dhuma, the head of the Mehta Chowk-based Damdami Taksal. It contained the signatures of leaders of around 15 religious organisations or sects.
Dhuma had handed over a similar memorandum to the jathedar in December last year, calling for putting an end to the solar-based Nanakshahi calendar and reverting to the lunar-based Bikrami calendar. The jathedar had kept this memorandum under the wraps for almost a year.
It was virtually a show of strength by the Sant Samaj at the Akal Takht secretariat where the meeting with the jathedar took place. In the meeting they made it clear that they would stop at nothing short of bringing back the Bikrami calendar.
“We have conveyed our viewpoint to the jathedar. It is for him to take a decision. We have told him that Sikhs should follow the calendar which was in circulation when Guru Nanak Dev was born and that was the Bikrami calendar and not the Nanakshahi calendar,” Dhuma said while talking to the media after meeting the jathedar.
Prominent among the sects/groups that have come in support of the Bikrami calendar, include the Nihang jathebandis, Damdama Taksal, Rarra Sahib Samparda, Nanaksaria samparda, Bhuchowale Sant, Ratwara Sahib dera, Baba Hari Singh Randhawa, Harianvela wale and a couple of others.
There are supporters of the Bikrami calendar even in the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). Prominent among these is Amarjit Singh Chawla.
SIKH HIGH PRIESTS TO DECIDE
Later briefing the media, Giani Gurbachan Singh said, “I have received the viewpoint of the Sant Samaj and that of some other organisations that are in favour of the Nanakshahi calendar. We will take up both the viewpoints at the next meeting of the 'Singh Sahibs' (high priests) and thereafter take a decision”.
He, however, did not disclose when the next meeting of the high priests was scheduled.
PUNJAB GOVT, RSS BEING BLAMED
Meanwhile, a number of Sikh groups including the Dal Khalsa, the Akali Dal (Delhi) led by Paramjit Singh Sarna, Akal Purkh ki Fauj of Jaswinder Singh Advocate, the Panthic Taal Mel Sangthan of Giani Kewal Singh, a former jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, the All India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) and a number of others have lent their support to the Nanakshahi calender.
Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwarpal Singh, who favours the original Nanakshahi calendar of 2003, feels that the original calendar is “vital for the unity of the Sikhs”.
He feels that the Nanakshahi calendar is an identity marker for the Sikh community and the changes (of 2010) have already killed the spirit of the calendar. The amendments made in 2010 had the imprint of the RSS and now, the latest efforts to revert to the Bikrami calendar was a part of a larger conspiracy, hatched by anti-panthic elements including the Badals, to cause severe setback to the distinct identity of the Sikhs, he added.
The Dal Khalsa has urged the jathedar and others to build consensus on the issue instead of playing a partisan role.
SGPC executive member Karnail Singh Panjoli and its general secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhaur are also supporters of the 2003 version of Nanakshahi calendar and had opposed the amendments in 2010 at the executive meeting that was to ratify the changes.