The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Calendar makes Bhindranwale martyr

Talwandi Sabo (Bathinda), April 14: Sikh history was made today when the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee president released the Nanakshahi calendar.

“This is a historic day for the Sikhs who did not have a calendar of their own,” committee president Kirpal Singh Badungar said. Sikhs were earlier using the Vikrami calendar to determine the dates of festivals.

In accordance with the new calendar, Baisakhi was celebrated a day late today in this historic town.

The new calendar significantly mentions June 4 as the day the Akal Takht was damaged during Operation Bluestar and June 6 as the “martyrdom” day of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

The calendar, however, skips the names of many militants, including the assassins of Indira Gandhi, and the November 1984 riots, both of which were mentioned in the original draft.

Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom and the anniversary of the Akali Suba agitation, too, find mention. The dates of some Sikh festivals have been changed.

Presenting the calendar to Shiromani Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal, Badungar said: “I would like to request Badal saheb to present it to the Centre and seek holidays on days we Sikhs consider as historic for the community. All dates in it have a lot of historical, cultural and political significance for us.”

Accepting the calendar, Badal congratulated the committee for introducing it. Akali sources, however, said the former chief minister had tried till the last to drop Bhindranwale’s name from the calendar.

“Badal never liked Bhindranwale and had blamed him for the turmoil in Punjab during the 1980s and early ’90s,” a senior Akali leader said.

“But he had to give his assent following pressure from the Sikh community. The calendar, incidentally, had to go through a number of chopping before its acceptance by the SGPC.”

On the Akali demand that the Sikhs’ historic days be declared holidays, chief minister Amarinder Singh said it was up to the state government whether to implement it or not. “I have not seen it (the calendar),” he said.

The Vikrami calendar, like most ancient religious calendars, is lunar-based. It, however, accumulates an error of 20 minutes every year, gradually changing the timing of religious festivals over decades and centuries.

The Nanakshahi calendar, developed by Canada-based Pal Singh Purewal, is solar-based.

The calendar, supposed to have been introduced in 1999, was stalled over differences between then Akal Takht jathedar Puran Singh and committee chief Jagir Kaur.

Puran Singh was sacked for sticking to the arguments of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which said the new calendar would harm Hindu-Sikh relations as their festival dates were common.

Some common Hindu and Sikh festivals, however, would continue to be celebrated according to the old calendar. But the birth and death anniversaries of the Sikh gurus and other Sikh festivals would follow the new calendar.

SAD general secretary Kanwaljit Singh took the opportunity to hit out at the Congress. The time had come to declare war on the Congress, he said, which was hurting people by raising taxes.

“Even education has not been spared. There is a 35 per cent increase in fees. How can the common man get jobs when he won’t be able to go to school'” he said.

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