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Controversial Lobbying Continues Against Changes To Nanakshahi Calendar


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Lobbying Continues Against Changes to Nanakshahi Calendar
Losing Our Identity
By Anju Kaur, SikhNN staff writer, Washington Bureau
Posted: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 | 01:11 pm

Reporting from WASHINGTON - A representative from the California gurdwaras is in Punjab lobbying against the changes made to the Nanakshahi calendar last year, ahead of its next release on Chet 1 (March 14).

Raminderjit Singh Sekhon, president of the Coalition of Gurdwaras of California, is in Bathinda, Punjab, talking to Sikh leadership about many issues, including the Nanakshahi calendar.

“There is pressure from the outside world, which understands these issues with the help of the Internet,” he said by phone. “We will keep pressuring.”

He was on his way to meet with Damdama Sahib Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh, the only one of the five takht jathedaars that is openly against the changes. The jathedaar has received considerable pressure from Patna Sahib Jathedar Iqbal Singh and the other groups favoring the changes. Raminderjit Singh said he was going to give moral support to the jathedaar but doubted that they would have any affect on the issue, he said.

“I think they (SGPC and Akaal Takht) are going to go through with it, they are determined,” he told SikhNN. “They will do it, they don’t care.”

He and Pal Singh Purewal, the architect of Nanakshahi, and others interviewed for this report, allege that the changes were made in exchange for votes from the Sant Samaaj and Damdami Taksal, large voting blocks in Punjab elections.

“It’s open book knowledge” that Harnam Singh Dhuma of Dadami Taksal and Kashmira Singh of the Sant Samaj forced the changes, Raminderjit Singh said. “It’s a known fact in Punjab.

“These Sanaatanees, Nirmalaas and Udaasees have joined together. They have nothing to do with Sikhism but they dominate today’s politics,” he said. “About 75 years ago, all of them were thrown out in the gurdwara struggle. Now they are back. It’s a tragedy.

“(But) we have to blame our own people for going along,” he added. “For vote-grabbing, the SGPC knows that the Sant Samaj dominate the rule of Punjab.”

The SGPC did not return our emailed request for comment on these allegations and on the Nanakshahi changes.

“They sacrificed the calendar for vote banks of the Sant Samaj,” Pal Singh also said from his home in Edmonton, Canada.

The Shiromani Akali Dal party is presently in power in Punjab, and the chief minister, Parkash Singh Badal needs votes, he said. His son, Sukhbir, bargained with these groups to change the calendar for votes.

The SGPC adopted Nanakshahi in 2003. But six years later, it said it would change all sangraans, the first day of each month, back to Bikrami, and would change major gurpurabs such as the prakash of Guru Gobind Singh, the martyrdom of Guru Arjan, gurgadhi of Guru Granth Sahib and joti jot of Guru Gobind Singh, back to Bikrami.

“They have made a mess of it completely,” Pal Singh told SikhNN. The Sant Samaj and Damdami Taksal were responsible for forcing these changes, but the ultimate responsibility belongs to the SGPC and Akaal Takht for institutionalizing the changes.

The nexus of the long-standing religious and political agendas dictated the events that led up to the changes.

“This is a pathetic story,” Pal Singh said.

On Nov. 24, 2009, the SGPC sent him an email requesting that he attend a Nov. 27, 2009, meeting of the 11-member calendar committee, the Sant Samaj and Damdami Taksal.

“How can I come in two days time?” he said. “I was in India twice that year attending meetings and giving interviews but they did not hold the meeting when I was there.”

He recommended that he participate in the meeting by conference call. But on the day of the meeting, he waited for four hours and did not receive a call. He finally called Amritsar and was told that the meeting was over, and that next time he will have more notice.

That meeting ended in chaos, Pal Singh said. The only decision they made was that they should have another meeting. But the next meeting never happened.

SGPC President Avtar Singh Makkar made the changes that Sant Samaj and Damdami Taksal wanted, and sent the recommendation to the SGPC executive committee for approval, he said.
Three members of the executive committee walked out of the deliberations in disapproval, he said. But the changes were approved.

The changes were institutionalized in the 542nd calendar that was released on the New Year, Chet 1 (March 14, 2010).

“Sant Samaj was against the Nanakshahi calendar from day one,” Pal Singh said. This religious group is known to follow ritualistic practices that are contrary to Sikh Rehit Marayaadaa. Their media propaganda centers on a concerted statement: Nanakshahi has divided Hindus and Sikhs.

They justified continued use of the Bikrami calendar by saying that it was used during the Gurus’ times, Pal Singh said.

This is true, but Bikrami is a Hindu calendar. It is based on mythology and begins on the birth year of perhaps a fictitious figure named Maharaja Bikramjit nearly 2,100 years ago.

“I’m not saying it’s a Hindu calendar to give it a bad connotation,” Pal Singh said. “Astronomers all over the world call Bikrami a Hindu calendar. It’s in Hindu literature, and all pundits call it a Hindu calendar.

But Bikrami is calculated using the motions of the moon and sun, which makes it astronomically incorrect.

In 2012, an extra month, called Bhandon, will be added to the lunar calendar, twice. The gurpurab of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib will occur twice, one in the first month of Bhandon and second in the second month of Bhandon.

Pundits say the first Bhadon is an unclean month and that no auspicious occasions should occur then.

“There is no month clean or unclean according to Gurmat,” Pal Singh said. “We Sikhs who follow date of these gurpurabs will not celebrate it on the first Bhadon when it actually occurs, and celebrate it in the next month.

“This is absolutely against Sikhi,” he added.

“I came up with idea that we should have our own calendar as a Sikh nation, according to Gurbani, according to fixed dates for everyone to follow.

“Many calendar makers contacted me for 10 to 15 years about what gurpurab dates to put in the calendar,” he said. “I would say we don’t have our own calendar. This has to be fixed. We should discard the lunar and use only solar dates.”

It was no small feat. Beginning in 1995, Pal Singh engaged in considerable discussions with various intellectuals, historians, religious people and top scholars. The SGPC in 1999 formed an 11-member calendar committee, including five scholars with doctoral degrees, to look into the issue.

Nanakshahi became the first Sikh calendar in 2003. It is named after Guru Nanak and begins on his birth year. It is based on the tropical solar year and is astronomically correct. The first day of the first month begins on the equinox, when the length of the day and the night is the same, Chet 1 (March 14). Although the Common Era calendar used throughout the world begins on Jan. 1, Nanakshahi months and years are perfectly aligned with it.

For Sikhs, Nanakshahi fixes all gurpurab dates, and the months and seasons will always match with Gurbani.

“Suraj iko ruth anayk, that is the main thing,” Raminderjit Singh said about the line from Keertan Sohila, meaning: ‘seasons originate from the sun.



1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Now I may understand why there has been so much character assassinatin of Pal Singh Purewal recently on the Internet and in Sikh mail-groups. Intended to be pre-emptive strikes perhaps.

Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
Jul 4, 2004
Its also happening with Harjinder Dilgeer...and Latest salvo by Lamba on Gyani Vedanti ex Jathedar of Akal takhat because Vednati refuses to back down on the Nanaksahi Calendar issue..blatant lies mean nothing to these people.. WAJA BAJAO...moorakh banao !!japposatnamwaheguru: