By Asia Samachar Team | MALAYSIA |
One Malaysian organisation has been diligently producing a Sikh calendar as per the dates published in the original Nanakshahi calendar.
Khalsa Diwan Malaysia (KDM), an Ipoh-based body running more than four dozen weekend Punjabi schools nationwide, has been publishing calendars according to the Nanakshahi calendar dates since 2004.
“We have stuck to the original dates when it was first adopted in 2003,” KDM president Santokh Singh told Asia Samachar.
As in the past years, KDM has printed some 5,000 copies of the calendar, which are made available free to the 2,500 students attending its Punjabi Education Centres (PECs) around the country.
“We are the only producers of the calendar in Malaysia. It goes around the nation. We send it to all gurdwaras. This year’s calendar has already gone out,” he said.
How does this matter? The Sikh community is currently divided between the Nanakshahi and lunar Bikrami calendars to decide the dates for key Sikh festivals and gurpurabs (important days connected to the Sikh Gurus).
Hence, you may get two gurdwaras celebrating the birthday of Guru Gobind Singh on different dates, depending which calendar they have opted to follow.
“Some changes were done to the approved Nanakshahi calendar, but we had stuck to the original one,” he said.
KDM publishes the calendar in collaboration with the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC). Another collaboration partner, Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM), had opted to be left out since 2018 in the aftermath of an acrimonious Bachitar Natak/Dasam Granth debate locally.
On 5 Jan 1998, Shiromani Gurwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) had announced that the birthday of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib would be celebrated in 1999 as per the new Nanakshahi calendar.
Coming towards the year-end, this is one of the key commemorations that has attracted much attention. The Bikrami calendar can dictate two celebrations a year for some years, and none in next.
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, according to Purewal in an article he wrote.
The Nanakshahi Calendar is based on the length of the tropical solar year, similar to the Common Era Calendar generally used today.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.
With the Nanakshahi, one key feature is that Sikhs can pencil permanent dates for key events, and not have them moved around every other year.
With the Bikrami calendar, for example, you cannot have permanent dates for the martyrdom of Guru Gobind Singh’s children, unlike the permanent date etched in the minds of the community as to when the Indian army attacked the Harmandar Sahib, popularly known as the Golden Temple, in 1984.
However, the calendar introduction became a controversial issue when some segments of the Sikh society voiced their opposition towards it.
SGPC initially implemented it in December 1999, despite an Akal Takht directive to wait till a general consensus within the Sikh community emerged on the issue, noted retired academic and writer Nirmal Singh. See his article here.
He wrote: Later, SGPC back-tracked but it finally implemented the calendar with the consent of leading Sikh organisations in March 2003. In the implemented calendar Parkash Guru Nanak, Diwali and Hola Mohalla were to continue to be observed as per the Bikrami calendar and all other events as per the proposed Nanakshahi Calendar.
Resistance to the new calendar by some groups, however, continued. Consequently executive committee of SGPC agreed to change the birth and death anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev, Gurta Gaddi Diwas of Guru Granth Sahib and sangrands also to be observed as per Bikrami calendar. The above changes were announced by Giani Gurbachan Singh, jathedar of Akal Takht in January 2010.
The Sikh community is still divided on the issue. In December 2017, a large number of Chicago-based Sikh organisations and gurdwaras took a decision to adopt the original ‘Mool Nanakshahi’ calendar.
The decision was taken at the Chicago Mool Nanakshahi Calendar Implementation Conference which was also supported by several other Midwest gurdwaras from the states of Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin
The KDM Nanakshahi calendars are sold at RM2 per copy. Those interested to get copies can contact KDM office (05-5275181) or Santokh (016-5670810).
WHAT PUREWAL SAID ABOUT THE NANAKSHAHI CALENDAR:
The Nanakshahi Calendar is not a copy of the Common Era calendar. We have not adopted the Common Era calendar. The Nanakshahi calendar has its own character. The number of days in the months of the Common Era have been arbitrarily fixed, anywhere from 28 to 31. But in the Nanakshahi Calendar the first five months have 31 days each, based on the fact that the number of days from the spring equinox to the autumn equinox is greater than from the autumn equinox to spring equinox,, and the last seven have 30 days each. In a leap year the extra day has been added at the end of the year. The days in the months of the Common Era Calendar vary from 28 to 31, while Nanakshahi Calendar months have 31 or 30 days. These points make the Nanakshahi Calendar even more scientific than the Common Era calendar. We have adopted the correct length of the tropical year as the basis of Nanakshahi Calendar.
Time for Nanakshahi Calender? (Asia Samachar, 29 Dec 2019)
Adopt Mool Nanakshahi Calendar, stop confusion, says Sikh Chicago meet – WSN (Asia Samachar, 7 Dec 2017)
Do we really want Sikh calendar row to continue? (Asia Samachar, 8 Jan 2016)