In November the Sikhi Book Club members discussed the following article called ‘The Sikh Calendar Bikrami’ by Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Academy. This article can be found here.
To begin with the book club members reflected on the great efforts made by the authors to produce such a booklet. It was decided that this booklet was apt for the month of January, as every year many Sikhs hold celebrations and programmes to mark the Gregorian New Year, to the extent that the Sangat has now forgotten the traditional New Year and months which were adopted by our ancestors and Gurus.
This article includes a subarticle by Professor Anurag Singh of the international human rights organisation, regarding the contraversy surrounding the Nanakshahi calendar. From the outset the authors make it clear that they don’t intend to address both sides of the argument. Rather they state that the Bikrami calendar is the one which has traditionally been used by the Sikhs and should remain so.
The members discussed the importance of Gurpurabs which traditionally were celebrated very regularly and every opportunity. Given that the sangat used to work daily (without weekends or breaks), holidays were taken around the Gurpurabs which took place on the historically accurate day. This is in contrast to current day practice where Gurpurabs are often celebrated on a weekend, with the day being adjusted to suit the Sangat.
It is made clear that the Bikrami calendar was used during the Guru’s times and that specific Baanian reference this. Not only this but other historical references at the time also reference the calendar providing it credibility. The members discussed that calendars came into existence for formal future planning, rather than for day to day existence (which the lunar calendar is suited to due to its ease of visibility). It is interesting to note that India has several different calendars but the Bikrami calendar has been used by the people of Punjab for thousands of years, and is not related to any of the Hindu calendars.
There was a brief discussion about the units of time measurement that are used in Guru Granth Sahib Ji. For example, the ‘pehars’ or phases of the day have consistently been described and used. There is no doubt also that the Nanakshahi calendar has been cleverly named to suggest that it has something to do with Guru Nanak Dev Ji, but its existence is only since the 1990s.
The members all felt that this was very useful to discuss and in future we hope to read and review a text on Barah Maha to consolidate this learning and become more familiar with the spiritual aspects of each month in the Bikrami Calendar.