By some historical accounts Guru Gobind Singh was born on December 22, 1666. The gurpurab of his birth is given as the 7th day in the Desi month of Poh, according to the Hindu Bikrami Calendar. According to the Nanakshahi Calendar (Purewal, 2003), Guru Gobind Singh’s birthday falls each year on January 5. When should we celebrate the gurpurab of his parkash? At first blush, it seems the dates given for the gurpurab will differ depending on whether one is observing the Hindu Bikrami Calendar, or the Nanakshahi Calendar. Why not just decide on a day and move forward? The 7th day of Poh is always the 7th day of the month of Poh. There should not be any uncertainty. Why would fixing a date for the gurpurab pose a problem, if there is a problem? The Problem The date of December 22 will be true only in some years; the gurpurab can also fall sometime uncertain in January. This means that adherence to the Bikrami Calendar requires some degree of flexibility, as the date can never be fixed. To keep the matter even more unsettled, Parkash Guru Gobind Singh can fall twice in one year. Then why not observe the gurpurab according to the Nanakashahi Calendar? There the date is fixed. The 5th day of January is always the 5th day of January. There should not be any confusion. Why would fixing the gurpurab pose a problem on that end? This article examines some of the reasons for uncertainty about the parkash of Guru Gobind Singh. Parkash Guru Gobind Singh and the Bikrami Calendar A Bikrami, or Desi year, is a solar year which starts on the 13 of March (Gregorian). The Bikrami calendar is about 57.7 years beyond the Gregorian Calendar. This means that the year 2000 corresponds approximately to Bikram Samvat 2057, and therefore we are currently in Bikram Samvat 2067. A Bikram Samvat, or Desi year, is a solar year just like the Gregorian Calendar. However some of its months consist of 30 days, some 31 days, and others 32 days in length. However, this is not the reason why its gurpurabs are not fixed. The date of December 22 itself makes certain assumptions that are not altogether valid. All gurpurabs are subject to the start of the Bikrami calendar which begins with the first day after the new moon in the month of Kartika, sometime in October or November. This means that the Bikram Samvat varies when aligned to its Gregorian counterpart. Therefore, any correspondence between the month of Poh and the month of December is at best rough. The use of “December” in giving the birth date is an attempt to align with the Gregorian Calendar, which has been used over many generations by the Western world. Poh begins this year in 2010 on December 16, but the start and end of Poh, in any year, can vary from mid December through mid January, and anyone born at the middle to end of Poh would conceivably celebrate a birthday in December in some years and in January in other years. Thus the gurpurab of Guru Gobind Singh can fall in December or in January (or not at all) using the Bikram Samvat system. Examples of 11 dates for Guruji's birth follow: December 24, 1990; January 12, 1992; December 31, 1993; January 19, 1994; January 7, 1995; December 28, 1995; January 15, 1997; December 25, 1998; and January 14, 2000 (http://www.allaboutsikhs.com/sikh-calendar/the-sikh-nanakshahi-calendar.html). Two gurpurabs in 1996 are likely the result of there being 2 new moons in that year during the month of December. The Nanakshahi Calendar, an alternative (Purewal version) The Nanakshahi Calendar was developed by Pal Singh Purewal to remedy the confusion created by movable gurpurabs. Until the 13th of March, 1998, the Bikrami Calendar was used by Sikhs to determine gurpurabs. Currently, or more precisely until January of this year, we used the Nanakshahi Calendar which begins on March 14 Gregorian (which is 1 Chet 531 Nanakshahi). The calendar is aligned with the Gregorian calendar as follows: it begins with the birth of Guru Nanak, taking (1 Chet 531 Nanakshahi ) as the date of his birth. Gurpurabs are fixed relative to the Gregorian Calendar. This makes the start of the year, and the birthday of Guru Nanak, fixed as 1 Chet and as March 15. There is no variation, as all other gurpurabs are also fixed dates. Pal Singh Purewal described the importance of revising the traditional Bikrami Calendar thus: The days in the months are not fixed. The number can vary from 31-32 days for the summer months and from 29-30 days for winter months. The rules for determination of Sankrantis, beginning of the months, is complicated and public have to rely on Jantri publishers for such a simple thing as the beginning of a month. ... The lunar portion of the calendar, according to which most of the religious festivals are fixed, has its share of peculiarities. Since it is based on 12 months of the lunar cycle (full moon to full moon or new moon to new moon), its year length is about 11 days shorter than that of the solar year. Therefore, its year begins 11 days earlier in the following year in relation to the solar year. This is why the Gurpurb dates shift by about 11 days from one year to the other. This is not the end. To keep the lunar year in step with the solar year, every two or three years an extra month is added to the lunar year. This month is called malmas or intercalary month. That lunar year contains 384 or so days. This makes the Gurpurb dates to occur by about 18 or 19 days later when such a month is introduced. The month of Jeth that will occur in 1999 CE will be intercalated, i.e., there would be two months of Jeth, one Sudha and the other Mal. In the malmas or the extra month religious festivals are not celebrated. This is quite a complicated set up, and is also contrary to the philosophy of Gurbani according to which no month in itself is good or bad (http://www.allaboutsikhs.com/sikh-calendar/the-sikh-nanakshahi-calendar.html). The Nanakshahi calendar does not fix all celebrations. Diwali and Hola Mohalla continue to be determined using the Bikrami calendar (http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/sikhism/customs/nanakshahi.shtml). Today The problems have not been resolved. In October 2009, The Tribune reported that the Nanakshai Calendar, ever at the time when it was officially released in 2003, was opposed by various Sikh sects, including the Sant Samaj and Damdami Taksal. A secret meeting of Sikh “clergy” was held at Akal Takht, and including the Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib. The goal was to put an end to an issue that divided the Sikh world, namely, a calendar that did not conform to the traditional lunar system. Many surmised that the meeting had “poliltical overtones” as elections approached (http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20091017/main5.htm). In January 2010 ammendments to the Nanakshahi calendar were approved by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. Giani Jathedar Gurbachan Singh justified the changes saying these would bring about unity in the community. SGPC head Avtar Singh Makkar had echoed the sentiments on Sunday. “Some takhts and the Sant Samaj were opposed to the calendar and these changes will help satisfy them,” the jathedar said (http://www.expressindia.com/latest-...eal-on-changes-in-nanakshahi-calendar/563543/). The revisions The conclusion was to create what are now 2 Nanakshahi Calendars. One is the 2003 version based on scientific calculations of Pal Singh Purewal, a calendar that can be followed yearly, without consulting planetary charts, because it makes firm the dates for most gurpurabs. The second is also referred to as the Nanakshahi Calendar as amended, and approved by Akal Takht in 2010. It is essentially an amended Bikrami Calendar. … now Sikh community would follow all the Sikh religious occasions including birth and death anniversaries of Sikh masters as per new amendments which were approved by Akal Takht. Now the Nanak Shahi Calendar with latest amendments would come in practice after two month in March…As per new amendments, some important days like the birth anniversary of tenth Sikh master Guru Gobind Singh, Gurta Gaddi Divas and Jyoti Jot Samaun Divas of Guru Gobind Singh would be observed as per the old traditional Bikrami calendar (http://www.punjabnewsline.com/content/view/22341/38/). And the reaction Many expressed reservations.The Institute of Sikh Studies, the International Sikh Confederation and the Kendri Guru Singh Sabha, Chandigarh, also expressed “disappointment” over the decision of the SGPC executive committee to modify the calendar. “Modifications approved by the SGPC executive committee have totally changed the character of the calendar,” said Pritam Singh, president, Institute of Sikh Studies. The Nanakshahi calendar had been framed after thorough research and deliberations in which a large segment of Sikhs from across the globe took part. Learned persons, irrespective of their religious beliefs, were consulted in framing the final draft of the calendar. This was thoughtfully studied and unanimously approved by the general body of the SGPC and the Jathedars before it was implemented. Making major modifications without consulting all sections of the Sikh Panth is totally unjustified,” he added. “ We earnestly appeal to our Jathedars not to issue any edict in this regard and thereby preserve the unity of the Sikh religion until wider consultations are instituted," said Baljit Kaur, secretary, Kendri Guru Singh Sabha, Chandigarh (http://www.indianexpress.com/news/a...eal-on-changes-in-nanakshahi-calendar/563543/). Sant Samaj was pleased with the outcome. The Sant Samaj, meanwhile, gathered in Sarmastpur Gurdwara near Jalandhar and appreciated the changes made in the calendar and also thanked the SGPC and Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal for their efforts to pursue the required changes. Damdami Taksal and Sant Samaj chief Harnam Singh Dhumma said the remaining issues related to the religion should also be sorted out through discussions (http://www.indianexpress.com/news/a...eal-on-changes-in-nanakshahi-calendar/563543/). In conclusion The panth may or may not be satisfied that the matter of calendars has been handled with wisdom. The date of the gurpurab has been settled. Or has it? It depends on the calendar one chosoes to consult. The revisions to the Nanakshahi Calendar can be soft-peddled, but only for those who are not aware that the calendar officially titled "Nanakshahi Calendar" on the SGPC website is not so different from its traditional Bikram counterpart. Only the gurpurabs for the birth of Guru Nanak and the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev are now fixed. The others are movable. The Nanakshahi Calendar that was made official in 2003, and was greeted with broad acceptance by gurdwaras worldwide and established Sikh scholars, was said in 2009 to divide the panth, from Sant Samaj and Damdami Taksal most notably. What exactly has been settled? Definitions Gregorian Calendar The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar or the Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. Bikrami or Desi Calendar A Bikrami, or Desi year, is a solar year which starts on the 13 of March, or the start of Spring, and consists of 365 days. Some of its months consists of 30 days, some are of 31 and others are of 32 days. This calendar is in traditional use in Punjab (both in India and Pakistan). Later the use was changed to other calendars including the Islamic calendar, the Nanakshahi calendar and the Gregorian Calendar. Related links at Sikh Philosophy Network Sikh bodies to gherao Makkar over changes in Nanakshahi calendar Tampering with Nanakshahi Calendar Unacceptable Unbearable says Sikh Youth of Punjab Sikh Clergy to Scrap Nanakshahi Calendar? The Nanakshahi Calendar Nanakshahi - The Sikh Calendar References Akal Takht gives final nod to amendments in Nanak Shahi Calendar, Satinder Bains http://www.punjabnewsline.com/content/view/22341/38/ Akal Takht puts final seal on changes in Nanakshahi calendar A. http://www.expressindia.com/latest-...eal-on-changes-in-nanakshahi-calendar/563543/ B. http://www.indianexpress.com/news/a...eal-on-changes-in-nanakshahi-calendar/563543/ Nanakshahi Calendar, by Pal Singh Purewal A. http://www.allaboutsikhs.com/sikh-calendar/the-sikh-nanakshahi-calendar-1.html B. http://www.allaboutsikhs.com/sikh-calendar/the-sikh-nanakshahi-calendar.html Sikh Calendar, http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/sikhism/customs/nanakshahi.shtml Sikh Clergy to Scrap Nanakshahi Calendar, Varinder Singh http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20091017/main5.htm Note: All material directed quoted is in italic font.