Many organizations, and Pal Singh Purewal, architect of Nanakshahi 2003, urged the Akal Takht to rescind the changes before the 2011 New Year. But March 14 can and went without any movement from the highest Sikh authority.
“Sometimes, Sikhs outside hope, decision makers will put aside politics and act for the benefit of the Panth,” said Surinderpal Singh, chairman of the religious and spiritual committee of the World Sikh Council – America Region, which made the appeal in its news release.
The council, a coalition of 40 gurdwaras and seven organizations, has unsuccessfully been lobbying the Akal Takht to return to the original Sikh calendar.
On May 5, it made a formal endorsement of the original calendar.
“We hereby appeal to all the Gurdwaras of the world to take immediate steps to adopt the Nanakshahi calendar and celebrate all Gurpurabs and other important festivals according to this calendar,” its news release says. “…It is of great significance for the Sikh community to have their own independent calendar. Nanakshahi Calendar is a symbol of the sovereignty of Sikhs, from which they will keep on getting inspiration to march towards their destiny.”
A random survey of the council’s member gurdwaras shows that they agree with the statement and that they are using Nanakshahi 2003 Gurpurab dates.
Some of the largest gurdwaras in the United States, such as Gurdwara Sahib Fremont, California, and the Sikh Center of Gulf Coast in Houston, Texas, confirmed that they are following Nanakshahi 2003.
“It’s according to Sikhism, that’s what we are supposed to do,” said Nihal Singh Sandhu, president of Sri Guru Singh Sabha, in Glen Rock, New Jersey.
The Akal Takht first adopted the Pal Singh’s Sikh calendar in 2003 after several years of research and coordination with intellectuals and experts. This original version has come to be known as Nanakshahi 2003.
The calendar is named after Guru Nanak and its first year begins in 1469, the year he was born. It also begins with the month, Chet, as enunciated in ‘Barah Mah’. Nanakshahi 543 began this year on Chet 1, which was March 14, 2011.
The calendar cycle is 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds, which is similar to the Western Gregorian Calendar or the Tropical Calendar. Its months consist of 31 or 30 days.
The connection between the months and seasons will always remain the same as elaborated in the ‘Barah Mah’ and ‘Rutee Salok’ banees contained in Guru Granth Sahib.
The dates of all Gurpurabs will always stay the same year after year in the Nanakshahi calendar, as well as in the Common Era (CE) calendar. For example, Guru Gobind Singh’s parkash divas will always fall on Poh 23, which is January 5.
Before the Nanakshahi calendar, which is based on the solar cycle, Sikhs followed the Bikrami calendar, which is based on the lunar cycle. A lunar year is scientifically flawed in that months and seasons do not always match, and dates are not consistent from year to year. As a result, Guru Gobind Singh’s parkash divas, as well as other Gurpurabs, occur on varying dates, and even twice in some years.
The Akal Takht officially changed the calendar in 2010. It made enough changes to Nanakshahi 2003 that it essentially turned it into the Bikrami calendar followed by Hindu priests, Pal Singh told SikhNN earlier this year. Nanakshahi 2010 is irrelevant to Sikhs.
The Akal Takht said the changes were necessary because the calendar was breaking with tradition and dividing Sikhs. But Pal Singh Purewal and WSC-AR assert that it’s the Akal Takht’s changes that are dividing Sikhs, on geopolitical lines, between those inside Punjab and those outside.
“We respectfully request Siri Akal Takht Sahib to direct the Sikh Nation to re-adopt the Nanakshahi Calendar that was approved by the Khalsa Panth in the year 2003 CE,” the council again urged in its news release.