| Autar Singh | Opinion | 5 Jan Dec 2016 | Asia Samachar |
While the majority of the Gurduaras around the world are celebrating the Parkash Purb (birthday) of Guru Gobind Singh ji today, ie on 5 Jan 2016, there are some who will be celebrating on 16 Jan.
Two different dates for one gurpurb! How is that possible?
To put it simply, this is caused by the use of two different calendars by the community; the erstwhile Bikrami Calendar and the new Nanakshahi Calendar. The former being a luni-solar calendar while the latter is a solar calendar. More specifically, the Bikrami is based on Sidereal year of 365 days, 6 hours, 9 minutes and 10 seconds , while the Nanakshahi is based on the length of Tropical year of 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds.
Gurpurbs based on the Bikrami calendar keep occurring on different dates every year. The Parkash Purb of Guru Gobind Singh ji had been celebrated twice in some years and not at all in some other years. The Nanakshahi calendar has fixed the dates and Gurpurbs now come on fixed dates every year. Thus the Parkash Purb of Guru Gobind Singh ji is celebrated on 5th January every year.
The Nanakshahi Calendar was approved and implemented by the SGPC in 1998. It has been acclaimed as a milestone in further establishing the sovereignty of the Sikh Faith and was approved by the Akaal Takht Sahib in 2003. However, it was later amended due to pressure from certain groups who wish to continue using the Bikrami calendar.
To keep the article short, please see the table below that compares the two calendars. It is taken from an article by Sardar Pal Singh Purewal who introduced the Nanakshahi Calendar. Hope it helps to understand the reason for the different dates.
Comparison between Nanakshahi and Bikrami calendars:
- BASED ON
Nanakshahi: Based on length of Tropical year 365d 5h 48m 45s
Bikrami: Based on Sidereal year 365d 6h 9m 10s
N: Days in months 31 or 30; first five months contain 31 days each and last seven 30 days each -a very simple rule to remember.
B: Months may contain 29, 30, 31 or 32 days; no simple rule for determination of the number of days in a given month
3. FIXED-LEAP YEAR RULE
N: Fixed leap year rule -last month to have 1 extra day every four years
B: No fixed rule
4. FIXING DATES
N: Fixed dates of Sangrands in Common Era (calendar)
B: Sangrand depends on entrance of sun into ‘rasis’, dates of Sangrands not fixed in Common Era
5. CONNECTION TO SEASONS
N: Permanent relation between seasons and months; will stay according to Gurbani
B: Months will shift in seasons – on the average by 1 day per 70 / 71 years – already shift of 7 / 8 days since Guru Nanak Sahib’s time
N: Gurpurbs on fixed dates according to both Nanakshahi and Common Era calendars
B: Gurpurb dates change from year to year in CE calendar
N: All Gurpurbs occur once every year, according to both NS and CE calendars
B: In some years no Parkash Gurpurb of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, while in others it occurs twice in one year of the CE calendar. In 1999 CE there was no Parkash Gurpurb of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib
8. ‘UNCLEAN’ MONTHS
N: No ‘unclean’ month (malmaas) in the year. No month or day is ‘clean’ or ‘unclean’ according to Gurbani
B: A ‘mal mas’ or ‘unclean month’ is added every two or three years in the lunar year to keep it in step with the solar year. In this month Gurpurbs cannot be celebrated. This whole thing is contrary to Gurbani
9. FIXED TO SOLAR DATES
N: Gurpurbs fixed according to solar dates e.g. 23 Poh for Parkash of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, and 23 Poh will always occur on 5th January. (We gave precedence to the original solar dates over the lunar dates and English dates.)
B: Gurpurbs fixed according to lunar dates e.g Poh Sudi 7, therefore, changing from year to year in CE calendar. The lunar year contains 354 / 355 days while solar year 365 / 366 days. When ‘mal mas’ is added the lunar year becomes 383 / 384 days long.
In 2000 CE Poh Sudi 7 was on 13th January according to Surya Siddhanta Panchangas (UP), while on 14th January according to Punjab Panchangs. So the same Gurpurb was celebrated on two different dates – on 13th January in Patna Sahib, and by some in Punjab on 14th January. Another problem of the lunar calendar is that the same ‘tithi’ can happen on two days or two ‘tithis’ can happen on one day.
Autar Singh, the current secretary general of Coalition of Malaysian Sikh Organisations (CMSO), is a former jathedar of Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM) and founding member of the Gurmat Leazning Zone, an internet-based Sikh discussion group
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