The Sikhs have permanently synchronized the Mool Nanakshahi (religious) Calendar with CE Calendar. Answers to Questions below by S. Pal Singh Purewal

How did this all come about?

Timeline of Events – When and how

What is the aim of formulating a new calendar?

“It should respect sacred holy scriptures.
It should discard the lunar calendar and use only a solar one.
All the dates should be fixed and not vary from year to year.”

Edmonton Journal

Which ethnic peoples have their own calendar?

The whole world is using Common Era calendar for civil purposes, and not for celebrating religious festivals (except Christians) –

1. The Christians use the CE calendar for both civil and religious purposes.
2. The Jews use the Jewish calendar for religious purposes and CE calendar for civil use
3. The Muslims use Hijri Calendar for religious purposes and CE calendar for civil use
4. The Hindus use Bikrami calendar for religious purposes and CE calendar for civil use
5. The Bahaiis use the Bahaii calendar for religious purposes and CE calendar for civil use
6. The Sikhs, have permanently synchronized the Mool Nanakshahi (religious) Calendar with the CE Calendar.

Who are the participants and contributors to the Nanakshahi Jantri (Calendar)

See the evolution of the Nanakshahi and the Mool Nanakshahi Calendar. A committee, under the aegis of the Institute of Sikh Studies Chandigarh, was formed to study this problem. This committee held meetings at Chandigarh and formulated proposals. These were formally accepted, in principle, in a larger meeting in which about 40 eminent scholars, from universities and other institutions, participated. The main proposals given below were submitted to the S.G.P.C.

The need for the Sikhs to have their own calendar and a proposal for such a calendar was sent to the then acting Jathedar Sahib Akal Takht Sahib in 1994 CE. In the Nanakshahi Jantri, the proceedings of all the meetings could not be given because of constraints on space. All relevant information had been published in some issues of the Abstracts of Sikh Studies published by the Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh, and that the file containing the record was available with the Institute. Anyone can get this information from any of the sources. The SGPC passed a General House Resolution and asked the entire Sikh Panth was to follow this calendar which was released on the 300th year of Khalsa’s Creation in 1999 by the SGPC.

a) Length of the solar year in the Nanakshahi Samat should conform to the more accurate tropical year, instead of the sidereal year, currently being followed.

b) Begin the year from the month of Chet – as in the Baramahas.

Sikhs do not have their own country, why do they need their own calendar?

Sikhs do not have a country of their own. Does it mean that we, the Sikhs, should not have a calendar of our own? The Bahai faith is the newest faith, being about 200 years old. Its followers gave up on the Hijri calendar and have their own calendar which is based on tropical year length and has permanent correspondence with the Common Era calendar. All major religions of the world have their own calendar. Why should not ours?

The following quotation from ‘Mapping Time’ says it all:

“Today each of the major religions has its own calendar which is used to programme its religious ceremonies, and it is almost as true to say that each calendar has its religion. The Christians, the Moslems, the Jews, the Buddhists, the Jains, the Hindus, the Zoroastrians, and, more recently, the adherents of Bahai, all have their calendars.”

-Richards, E.G., Mapping Time, p.6

Who made the decision to implement the Nanakshahi Calendar?
Do you think that it was not properly debated upon?

“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 scholars 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.

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.

Is the name Nanakshahi obsolete?

The name Nanakshahi is not obsolete. In 1947 CE the Sikh History Society Amritsar published a Jantri in Urdu by Dr. Ganda Singh, and its title is ‘Mukhtasir Nanakshahi Jantri’. Maharaja Ranjit Singh issued a coin called Nanakshahi mohar. Dr. Bhai Vir Singh usually gave the year of the Nanakshahi Samvat in the dates of his articles published in the tracts. In some Hukamnamahs / correspondence from Akal Takht Sahib, the date used to be given in Nanakshahi Samvat also. In fact, some individuals and Sant Samaj of Baba Kashmira Singh seem to be allergic to the very word “Nanakshahi”, as opposed to “Bikrami”.

Why is the Nanakshahi Calendar needed at all? People have used the Bikrami Calendar since the inception of Sikhism.

ਰਥੁ ਫਿਰੈ ਛਾਇਆ ਧਨ ਤਾਕੈ ਟੀਡੁ ਲਵੈ ਮੰਝਿ ਬਾਰੇ ॥ ਪੰ: 1108

This refers to the date when the day is longest in the year, and usually the hottest, when the northern declination of the sun is maximum , when the sun changes its course from northerly to southerly direction (see Faridkoti Teeka, Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha- Mahan Kosh, or Sampardaee Teeka of Sant Kirpal Singh). This phenomenon occurred on the Sawan Sangrand at the time of beginning of Siddhantic astronomy. Because of the shift of the Sangrands due to the precession of the equinoxes, it occurred about 15th Asarh at the time of Guru Nanak Sahib, and around 13th Asarh in the first decade of the 18th Century, and occurs around 9th Asarh during the present times. This will shift to the close of Jeth in another 600 years. Here it does not matter whether it is Australia or India, it will occur in Jeth, contrary to its mention in the month of Asarh. Unlike Bikrami calendar, Nanakshahi calendar is based on the tropical length of the year, therefore no further shift will occur and it will always occur in the month of Asarh.

In 6500 years Asarh will move into mid-September. In September, it is autumn in the Northern hemisphere, and spring in the southern hemisphere (Australia included). My request is to understand the problem with the Bikrami calendar and not to offer far-fetched explanations.

The names of the month of the Nanakshahi calendar are the same as given in Barahmahas, except that their popular variants are used. We read Gurbani, and we want our children to read and understand Gurbani. We have to tell them about calendars as well, when explaining Gurbani Barahmahas.

On the beginning month of the Nanakshahi Calendar, I just want to reiterate that in the calendar we cannot have Chet as the twelfth month, when it is the first month in both the Barahmahas, and Ruti Slok Banis.

Why is the Nanakshahi Calendar needed at all? People have used the Bikrami Calendar since the inception of Sikhism.

The Gurbani refers to several months of the Bikrami calendar and associates them with seasons. Unfortunately, the Bikrami calendar, unlike the Common Era calendar used throughout the world, is not attuned to seasons and with the passage of time aberrations are bound to mount. The year used as basis for the Bikrami calendar differs from the tropical year, which is attuned to seasons and is used as a basis by the Nanakshahi calendar and the Common Era calendar. In the Gurbani month of Poh has been described as one of cold weather but with time, this month instead of overlapping with January [December-January] will shift to February and then to March. The Bikrami calendar then will no longer be true to Gurbani.

Seasonal festivals have also shifted over a long period of time and will continue shifting. For example, Lohri in 532 A.D. was on December 18 and Maghi on Dec. 19 but now they fall in the middle of January. In another 2000 years, these will occur in the middle of February and their association with the winter season will no longer exist.

How has the Nanakshahi calendar fixed these dates?

All we needed was to fix one date, which was the date for Baisakhi. There were many suggestions but what we finally agreed upon was to use the Baisakhi date of 1999, the 300th year of the Khalsa, as the pivotal date. All the Gurpurbs and seasonal festivals will continue to fall on the same day from now on according to the Nanakshahi calendar, and hence, since the Common Era calendar is also based on the tropical year, the dates will be fixed in the calendar as well.

The calendar [year] commences on the first day of Chet, March 14. The first five months have 31 days [each] and the remaining months have 30 days [each]. This like all aspects of the calendar is based on scientific principles. Summer months are longer than those in winter, as the number of days from the spring equinox to the autumn equinox is greater than the number of days from the autumn equinox to the spring equinox. In a leap year, the month of Phagan will have an extra day.


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