Amritsar – The SGPC move to come out with Sikh New Year calendar having “Bikrami character” has not found favour with Sikh organisations in various countries. These organisations have rejected the new calendar and expressed their resentment over the changes made in the NanakShahi Calendar.
With the Sikh high priests releasing a calendar on a new pattern for the Sikh New Year, though in the guise of Nanakshahi calendar, it is virtually the end of the road for the Nanakshahi calendar that was introduced in 2003 and was later amended in 2010.
Set to cause more confusion over dates of certain events and missing out on important days of other religions, the special one-year edition of Nanakshahi Calendar (NC) 2015-16 (Samwat 547) was released by Jathedar of Akal Takht Giani Gurbachan Singh on Saturday.
A quick look at the new calendar 2015-16 gives the impression that it is a hurried job as it mentions only 79 occasions against the 126 in NC 2014-15. The calendar is said to have been prepared on the basis of Gurbani and historic sources by an 11-member committee constituted by SGPC.
The new calendar has listed the death anniversaries of Sukhdev Singh Sukha and Harjinder Singh Jinda and that of Baba Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. It also gives the dates of the deaths of Bhai Satwant Singh and Bhai Kehar Singh but do not mention that of Beant Singh. The new one also lists Independence Day and Republic Day.
The martyrdom anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev was observed on June 1 in NC 2014-15, but falls on May 22 as per the new one and on June 16 according to the original NC. Similarly, the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh was given as December 28 in the previous NC, but has been fixed as January 16 in the new calendar; it was January 5 as per the Nanakshahi calendar.
The new calendar has also missed out Sikh religious days like Chotta Ghallughara, Saka Paonta Sahib, Morcha Guru Ka Bagh, Sarhind Fateh Diwas and birth anniversary of Bhagat Ravi Das
After its release, the Akal Takht jathedar clarified that the calendar would be applicable for the current year only.
Expecting protest from those backing the Pal Singh Purewal-authored NC, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) officials changed the venue of its release at the eleventh hour from Gurdwara Manji Sahib Diwan Hall to the Akal Takht secretariat.
According to The Tribune News, American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (AGPC) coordinator Dr Pritpal Singh said, “We reject the committee constituted by the Sikh clergy to resolve the calendar row and the calendar released by the SGPC.”
He said the AGPC had been following the original Nanakshahi calendar since 2003 and would continue to do so in future. He said their apprehensions regarding the revival of Bikrami calendar have come true with the fresh SGPC move. He urged the Akal Takht Jathedar not to play with Sikh sentiments.
The Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) also stated that it would stick to the original Nanakshahi calendar. PSGPC general secretary Gopal Singh Chawla, said, “The PSGPC led by its president Sham Singh released the original Nanakshahi calendar for the New Year on Saturday.” He said they would continue to follow it in future as it symbolised the distinct identity of Sikhs.
Gulbarg Singh of the Global Sikh Council (GSC) also rejected efforts by “any local organisation, especially the one under the control of a politician, to decide on global Panthic matters”. “Therefore, any decision, made by any committee, formed by the SGPC by exploiting the name of Akal Takht, to sabotage Nanakshahi calendar, the symbol of Khalsa Panth’s sovereignty, will not be acceptable,” he said.
Referring to the Sikh Gurdwara Act, he said the SGPC’s responsibility and authority was limited to the management of historic Sikh shrines in Punjab and others under its control. “Under the Act, no jathedar of any shrine, including Akal Takht, has been assigned any authority to act as a spokesperson for the Sarbat Khalsa, the Khalsa Panth.” He felt it was high time for the Sarbat Khalsa to become active and discharge its duties independent of any outside influences, political or otherwise.
The National Sikh Council of Australia Inc, which is a member of the GSC, also said the SGPC’s authority was limited to Punjab and Haryana only and not all Sikhs in the world. The council said,“The SGPC represents gurdwaras in Punjab and Haryana only, but most of the simple-minded diaspora Sikhs are under the impression that the SGPC is the controlling body of all Sikhs in the world, which is not true. The GSC should not follow the SGPC, rather the SGPC should follow the GSC,” it stated in a letter written to Gulbarg Singh of the GSC.