The frequently asked questions based on these answers and the data behind the evidence are based on published papers, evidence, and research by thought leaders, subject matter experts, historians and scholars in the field. See additionalPal Singh Purewal’s responses to Interview with Indian Express|Gurmit Singh |Mr. Lamba|Tara Singh|Harcharan Singh
What exactly is the Controversy?
Pal Singh Purewal, who had been working towards the Sikh calendar since the 1960s, introduced the Gurbani based Nanakshahi Calendar which was adopted in part by the SGPC and the Akal Takht. See the Sikh Calendar Evolution and Timeline here. Although some of the dates were largely adopted as fixed dates, some due to some political stated reasons as in the timeline below, were dismissed. In 2010, 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.” HT. SGPC reverted to the Bikrami calendar but called it the Nanakshahi Calendar. “Those Sikh festivals, which are celebrated at the same time as similar Hindu religious events, such as Diwali and Hola Mohalla, will still have their dates set by the Bikrami calendar.”
The Nanakshahi calendar has become a source of controversy.
“I did not take the decision on my own. In 1994, I wrote to the then Jathedar Akal Takht Prof. Manjit Singh in this regard. In 1995, I attended a seminar at the Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh, and presented my work on calendars. The Institute then formed a committee comprising scholars from three Universities in the state and other institutes. These [around 30] scholars [from many universities and instituitions] thrashed out various ideas and finally submitted a report to the SGPC in 1996. In May [March] 1998, the SGPC General House passed a resolution to implement the calendar.” – Pal Singh Purewal
How was the new 1999 Nanakshahi Calendar publicized and what feedback did it have?
The SGPC announced in the press on 5th January, 1998 CE, that the Birthday of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib would be celebrated in 1999 CE according to the new Nanakshahi calendar. On the same day there was Pal Singh Purewal’s article on the calendar in the papers. That was one year before the implementation of the calendar. Where were the opponents of the calendar then? How could they have missed reading that advertisement, which millions had read. The SGPC put up large billboards at the sites of the historic Gurdwaras, a few months before the implementation, publicizing information about the Gurpurb date. Hundreds of thousands of Sikhs must have visited those Gurdwaras during those months. In fact, there was only nominal opposition to the Nanakshahi Calendar until January 1999CE, when Baba Kashmira Singh took up the issue and organized opposition from the Sant Samaj.
Before Baba Kashmira Singh took up this issue, no one mentioned that this calendar would divide the community. Some Sants, like Baba Kashmira Singh and Baba Mangal Singh, feel that if the Nanakshahi Calendar is adopted they will lose their stranglehold on the innocent masses. That is why they are opposing it. It is these ‘Sants’ who are dividing the community.
The Nanakshahi Calendar is based on scientific principles. The situation of ‘two gurpurbs’ has been caused by the Sant Samaj led by Kashmira Singh and Mangal Singh who insist on celebrating Gurpurbs according to the lunar Hindu Bikrami Calendar.
Are you disappointed by the row?
“I have made the calendar, whether it is implemented or not depends on the Panth. There will be no disappointment even if it is not implemented, the real enjoyment lies in the research for such a project. I am optimistic that this calendar will be implemented either now or later as it is or with minor modifications.”- Pal Singh Purewal