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Nanakshahi Calendar

Dr Kirpal Singh

In India there had been well established tradition to start a new calender from an event considered significant. A new calender was initiated whenever a monarch ascended the throne (date of coro- nation) during the Muslim rule in India. It was known as monarch’s San-i-Jalus which had been used in the books written during the rule of that monarch. Some of these books are Akbar Namah, Tuziki-Jehan-giri, Muasir-i-Alamgiri, etc. In the field of religion, the new era was counted either from the birth of the prophet or from some important event of his life. The Christian calendar was started from the date of birth of Christ. Muslim calendar dates back to the Prophet Mohammad’s exodus from Mecca to Medina. It is called Hijri calendar. In the north of India, Vikrami calendar had been very popular and it dates back to the times of Raja Bikramjit of Ujjain, now in Madhya Pradesh. In the south of India, Saka calendar has been in vogue. In the north west, Nanakshahi calendar had been in use among the Sikhs. Recently, there has started a controversy regarding some reform in Nanakshahi calendar. Calendar reforms do not involve violation of any religious tenets nor is it in clash with any other calendar:

Need for Reform
The Sikhs have been celebrating important days of the Gurus as Bhai Gurdas, the 17th century exponent of Sikhism has stated Hoan Balhari tina gursikhan bhale bhagat gurpurb karande (I am sacrifice to those Sikhs who celebrate the days of Guru with devotion). The Sikhs therefore, have been in constant quest to find the actual date relating to birth, succession and death of the Gurus. The literature of Gurparnalis is the result of this quest. Bhai Randhir Singh has compiled these Gurparanalian which were published by the SGPC, Amritsar and had tried to find out correct dates with the help of newly discovered Bhatt Vahis. Karm Singh who has done pioneering work in calendaring, wrote Gurpurb Nirnay (1912) in which he has discussed and worked out the birth dates, succession dates and death dates of the Gurus which are considered mostly correct. He has converted these dates to the Christian calendar viz common calendar.

The dates fixed by lunar calculation are variable every year. They cannot be fixed once for all. By celebrating Gurus’ dates by lunar calculation as is our current practice, we are celebrating the day(s) before or after the actual date. We can find exact actual date by solar calculation only. This can be illustrated by the following example:

Guru Arjun’s Martyrdom day falls on the 2nd Harh-1663 BK which is equivalent to May 30, 1606 AD. It is Jeth Shudi Chauth (4th of light month of Jeth) of the same year. Every year Jeth Shudi Chauth is variable and it cannot be the same) year after year due to following reasons:

a) Lunar month is shorter that the solar month.
b) After some years one lunar month is added which is called Laund month and is considered inauspicious.

In solar calculation we can fix Guru Arjun’s martyrdom day on 30th May, every year. Similarly, all the Gurpurbs can be fixed in this way.

Recently, a laudable attempt has been made by a Canadian Sikh expert in calendaring by preparing new Sikh Almanac, popularly known as Nanakshahi Jantri. It was prepared making two fold reforms. The Bikrami dates relating to the Gurus were converted to the Common Calendar. Secondly, uniformity in the length of months has been effected. At present, Bikrami calendar after 70 years advances one day, as Bikrami year is longer than the solar year. Though Amavas and Puranmashis have been shown in the Nankshahi Jantri but the Gurpurb dates have been linked with the solar calculation and delinked from lunar calculation with exception of Dewali, Hola Mahla, etc. SGPC, Amritsar has approved these reforms in the their General Body meeting but the process of reform was stalled by the reactionaries. The Christians have twice reformed their calendar – once on 5th Oct 1582, and second time on 2nd Sept 1752. It is unfortunate that the Sikhs who have been spearheading reform in every field are now bogged down with the calendar reforms which have been due for long. Moreover, it is the crying need of the times as the Sikhs in diaspora want definite dates for Gurpurb celebrations based on the Common Calendar which is prevalent throughout the world. It is only possible if we shift to solar calculation for fixing the Gurpurb dates and link it with the common calendar.

Acceptance of Nanakshahi Calendar will fix the dates for all Gurpurabs once for all without requiring any change in future. This is also another feature of Sikhs identity.

According to the Brahminical belief, certain days and particular months are inauspicious. This is not so according to Sikh tenets as Guru Arjun has stated:

mwh idvs mUrq Bly ijs kau ndir kry ]
Wherever there is His Grace all months, days and moments are auspicious.

 

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