Friday, January 7, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Panel sets aside Nanakshahi calendar
From Ashok Sethi

AMRITSAR, Jan 6 — The seven-member committee constituted to look into various aspects and of the new Nanakshahi calendar today unanimously rejected it and decided that a new Sikh calendar should be prepared keeping in view Panthic sentiments and in conformity with Sikh maryada.

The committee, which was set up under the directions of the Jathedar, Akal Takht Giani Puran Singh after consultations with other high priests on December 23, took the decision at its day-long meeting held at Akal Takht.

The controversy has roused Sikh sentiments all over the world.

The new calendar was earlier rejected by the SGPC at a meeting held in April last year.

The president of the SGPC, Bibi Jagir Kaur was keen to resolve the controversy that has been brewing ever since Canada-based Sikh scholar Pal Singh Purewal first compiled the calendar. It has since been opposed by various sant samajs, Sikh religious organisations and certain Akali leaders, who rejected it outright.

Eventually the five Sikh priests held a meeting with representatives of the SGPC, Bibi Jagir Kaur and Mr Purewal and others and decided on a seven-member committee to sort out differences of opinion on the new calendar. But shortly afterwards the SGPC decided to adopt the new calendar.

The convenor of the committee, Principal Santokh Singh, talking to newsmen after the meeting said the calendar prepared by Mr Purewal was based on the solar system prevalent in the western world while Indian mythology and historical tradition based its calculation on the lunar system.

This was the practice for centuries and was accepted even by the Sikh gurus. Thus a complete change in format had raised controversies which now needed to be sorted out.

Mr Santokh Singh felt that a consensus was required among all Sikh organisations in keeping with tradition and Sikh maryada. These should also be the governing principle for a Nanakshahi calendar which would be acceptable throughout the world.

However, no time frame had been set for finalising the new calendar he said but clarified that it would take some more time. He added that the committee had sought the view of all Sikhs and Panthic societies on the subject.

The celebrations of the birthday of Guru Gobind Singh yesterday in line with the new calendar had created an unsavoury situation here with the Jathedar, Akal Takht Giani Puran Singh, refusing to lead the procession on the eve of Gurpurab.

His absence was construed as unhappiness with the SGPC authorities for their unanimously announcing gurpurb dates based on the new calendar. According to the old calendar the anniversary falls on January 14.

Local Sikh societies connected with nagar kirtan too had protested but the Darbar Sahib management had pleaded with them not to abandon the nagar kirtan at that late stage.

The spokesman of the committee pointed out that the new calendar would have made for more confusion as during the month of April-September and October four gurpurabs each had been declared.

This was not acceptable to Sikhs. He said a lunar calendar was best suitable to the Sikh community and the new calendar was not only misleading but was devoid of sanctity.

A member of the committee, Sant Mangal Singh Satlani felt that continued acceptance of the present Nanakshahi calendar by the SGPC was not in conformity with the views of all Sikhs. He said SGPC members who had been defying the sentiments of Sikhs should be summoned to Akal Takht to explain their position.

The meeting also decided to hold seminars where Sikh intellectuals and scholars would be invited to present their views on the calendar.

Meanwhile in a move that is sure to deepen the controversy, Baba Makhan Singh, a member of the seven-member panel demanded that Bibi Jagir Kaur be summoned to Akal Takht as she had violated the orders of the Jathedar by refusing to abide by the Vikrami calendar. In this context he pointed out that the SGPC had observed the martydom day of Guru Teg Bahadur last month and the ‘gurpurb’ of Guru Gobind Singh yesterday as per the Nanakshahi calendar, despite this being forbidden by the Jathedar.

Mr Purewal, when contacted by newsmen, refused to offer any comments.


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