The Nanakshahi calendar is a solar calendar that was adopted by the Shiromani
Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC) to determine the dates for important
Sikh events. It was designed by Pal Singh Purewal to replace the Hindu calendar
and is in use since 1998-99. The epoch of this calendar is the Prakash of the
first Sikh Guru, Nanak Dev Ji in 1469. Sikh New Year’s Day falls on March 14th
as per the Gregorian (Western) calendar.
Features of the new calendar
• A solar calendar
• Called Nanakshahi after Guru Nanak Dev Ji (founder of Sikhism)
• Year One is the year of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s birth (1469 CE)
• Uses most of the mechanics of the Western calendar
• Year length is same as Western calendar (365 days 5 hours 48 minutes 45
• Contains 5 months of 31 days followed by 7 months of 30 days
• Leap year every 4 years in which the last month (Phagun) has an extra day
Creation of the Calendar
The Nanakshahi Calendar was developed by a Canadian Sikh, Pal Singh
Purewal, a retired Computer Engineer. He started work on the new calendar in
the 1960’s. A committee, under the aegis of the Institute of Sikh Studies,
Chandigarh was formulated to study and recommend the proposals put forward
by S. Pal Singh Purewal. These were formally accepted, in principle, in a larger
meeting in which about 40 eminent scholars, from universities and other
The need for Sikh Calendar
A unique calendar is vital for the integrity of the Sikh religion. All communities
and faiths have their own calendar as a mark of their distinct cultural identity.
Just as the Islamic world has the Hijri calendar and Hindus have Bikrami
calendar, the Sikhs have a Nanakshahi calendar along with the common era
(CE) calendar which is in use throughout the world.
Earlier, many anti-Sikh institutions would use this point that Sikhs use the
Hindu – Bikrami Calendar as they are part of Hindus. With our own calendar in
place we can clearly declare our independence from any other religion.
WHY NANAKSHAHI CALENDAR ?
Bikrami Calendar is Hindu calendar which was used by the Sikhs for a very
long period, resulting in different dates of same Gurpurab or an event occurring
every year. Basically there are two problems with the Bikrami calendar. Firstly,
because it is based on the length of sidereal year (based on movement of stars &
moon) its months wander in seasons – the relation of the months with seasons
as given in Gurbani is changing. Secondly, since the Gurpurabs are celebrated
according to the lunar dates of the Bikrami calendar, these occur on different
dates of the Common Era calendar from year to year.
Both these problems have been resolved in Nanakshahi Calendar. Its year is
based on the length of the tropical year – the year which is based on Gurbani.
Therefore, its months will always maintain the present relationship with
seasons, and will stay according to Gurbani.
Also, since the Gurpurab dates have been fixed according to the solar dates, and
since Common Era Calendar is also based on the tropical year, Gurpurabs will
always occur on the same dates of the Common Era Calendar, and will not shift
from year to year. For example In 1998 CE the Prakash Purab of Guru Gobind
Singh Sahib occurred twice according to Bikrami Calendar, and did not occur in
1999 CE at all. The same situation was repeated in 2003 CE and 2004 CE. In
Nanakshahi Calendar there is no such anomaly. Guru Gobind Singh Ji Prakash
Gurpurab shall always occur on 23 Poh (Nanakshahi) / 5 January CE.
Some Other Features
Fixed number of days in the months as follows:
Chet 31, Vaisakh 31, Jeth 31, Harh 31, Savan 31, Bhadon 30, Asu 30, Katik 30,
Maghar 30, Poh 30, Magh 30, Phagun 30/31
Fixed beginning of the months in relation to the Common Era calendar as
follows: Month begins on Chet – 14th March, Vaisakh – 14th April, Jeth – 15th
May, Harh – 15th June, Sawan – 16th July Bhadon – 16th August, Asu – 15th –
September, Katik 15th – October, Maghar – 14th November, Poh – 14th
December, Magh- 13th January, Phagun – 12th February.
With the above scheme, any given date of any month of the Nanakshahi
calendar will always occur on the same date of the Common Era calendar,
except in the month of Phagun in a leap year when the corresponding dates of
Phagun from March 1 to March 13 will differ by 1 day from those of the same
month in non- leap years. This is a simple scheme, easier to remember; and the
calendar is good forever so that a particular month will have the same season
Source: Gurmat Study Team