The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on Friday released the Sikh ‘Nanakshahi Samat 548’ calendar for 2016-17.
The calendar was released by SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar at his office in Amritsar. He appealed to the Sikh masses to follow the calendar in ‘letter and spirit’ as it had been released on the directions of the Akal Takht.
He added the calendar had been dedicated to the year of 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh. Makkar also released the ‘jantri’ for ‘Samat 548’.
Though Makkar referred to the new calendar as ‘Nanakshahi’, but from the dates of important Sikh religious occasions or festivals, it was evident that it was similar to the traditional ‘Bikrami’ calendar.
Tug-of-war over Nanakshahi
The SGPC had discarded the original Nanakshahi calendar of 2003 that was prepared by the Canada-based Sikh scholar Pal Singh Purewal in 2007. Thereafter, a fresh version of the Nanakshahi calendar was prepared in which some of the dates of important Sikh religious occasions were fixed in accordance with the traditional ‘Bikrami’ calendar.
However, dates of most other Sikh religious occasions continue to differ with Bikrami calendar dates.
The revised calendar, too, was discarded in March last year after some Sikh religious groups led by the Damdami Taksaal approached Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh, saying it lacked acceptability among the Sikhs. Their contention was that Sikhs living outside Punjab continued to celebrate or observe important religious occasions in accordance with the dates fixed in the Bikrami calendar.
This led to protests from a number of Sikh radical groups.
Committee yet to take shape
The Akal Takht jathedar then directed the SGPC to form a committee comprising Sikh scholars, religious leaders and other eminent people from the community to prepare a report on the new calendar the Sikhs would follow. While releasing the 2016-17 calendar, Makkar refused to take any questions on the formation of the committee.