HT Explainer: Know about the controversial Nanakshahi calendar

Earlier, the Sikhs, along with the Hindus, had been following the Bikrami calendar or a lunar calendar. As the demand for a separate calendar for Sikhs was raised by a section of the Sikh community, Canada-based Sikh scholar Pal Singh Purewal designed a calendar which was a tropical solar calendar.
Dates of “sangrands” (first day of the month) and of some important gurpurbs differed in the Nanakshahi calendar from the Bikrami calendar.(HT Photo)
Dates of “sangrands” (first day of the month) and of some important gurpurbs differed in the Nanakshahi calendar from the Bikrami calendar.(HT Photo)
Updated on Mar 06, 2018 12:29 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Amritsar | By, Amritsar

In 2003, the SGPC adopted Nanakshahi calendar, designed by Canada-based Sikh scholar Pal Singh Purewal, replacing the time-old Bikrami calendar, to work out the dates of gurpurb and other festivals. The basic premise was that a separate calendar would reinforce separate Sikh identity. But the Nanakshahi version has since been dogged by confusion and controversies and has divided the Sikhs.

Must read | Amid row, SGPC releases Nanakshahi calendar

What is Nanakshahi calendar and why it was introduced in Sikhs?

Earlier, the Sikhs, along with the Hindus, had been following the Bikrami calendar or a lunar calendar. As the demand for a separate calendar for Sikhs was raised by a section of the Sikh community, Canada-based Sikh scholar Pal Singh Purewal designed a calendar which was a tropical solar calendar and differed with the Bikrami calendar in many respects. The SGPC, under the headship of Kirpal Singh Badungar, adopted the calendar 2003.

What is the controversy?

Dates of “sangrands” (first day of the month) and of some important gurpurbs differed in the Nanakshahi calendar from the Bikrami calendar. A major controversy erupted in 2010 after the SGPC modified the calendar prepared by Purewal as per the Bikrami calendar. The Sikh bodies termed it a step taken under pressure from the RSS and SAD.

Who are opposing the current calendar?

The Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and a majority of the other gurdwara managements across the world are opposing the modified version of the calendar citing that the SGPC reverted to the Bikrami calendar. They argue that in the Bikrami calendar, dates of many gurpurbs coincide, thereby creating confusion among the Sikh Panth.

What were the amendments made by the SGPC?

Days of “sangrands” of some of the months differed in original Nanakshahi calender from the Bikrami calendar. Besides, dates of gurpurbs, including birth anniversaries of Guru Gobind Singh, Guru Ram Das and martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev were fixed as per the western calendar to avoid clash of dates, which usually happened in the Bikrami calendar. In the “amended” version, the SGPC returned to the old system of fixing dates as per the Bikrami calendar.

What does Akal Takht say over the controversy?

Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh says a majority of Sikh sects, including Nihangs, Nirmalays, Udhasis and Damdami Taksal, observe and want to observe Sikh religious days according to the (amended) Nanakshahi calendar. He says the Sikh bodies shouldn’t create controversy and instead should unite under the aegis of the Akal Takht.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Surjit Singh is a correspondent. He covers politics and agriculture, besides religious affairs and Indo-Pak border in Amritsar and Tarn Taran.

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