By: Vivek Gupta
People in the city, particularly the Sikhs, are confused as, for the first time, the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh is being celebrated on two different dates which are 10 days apart. Worse, the Chandigarh Administration has announced a public holiday on a third date.
While the Chandigarh Samuh Gurdwara Prabandhak Sangathan, which manages 45 gurdwaras, including the prominent ones in Sectors 8 and 34, has decided to celebrate the festival on January 7, the only SGPC-run gurdwara in Sector 44 will hold the celebration on December 28. The administration has announced a holiday on January 5.
At the root of the confusion are two decisions taken by the Akal Takht, the supreme temporal authority of the Sikhs. Linked with this is an ongoing controversy over which calendar the community should follow: the traditional Bikrami calendar, which is a lunar calendar, or the Nanakshahi calendar, which is said to be a solar calendar, invented by Canada-based NRI Pal Singh Purewal in 2003.
Back in 2003, the SGPC had adopted the Nanakshahi calendar. Later, some amendments were made to this calendar in 2009. According to this calendar, the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, the Tenth Guru, this year falls on December 28 and coincides with the martyrdom day of his sons (Sahibzadas), making it an incongruous occasion.
On November 17, the Akal Takht Jathedar came out with a solution: the martyrdom day of the Sahibzadas would be observed on December 28, but the birth anniversary of the Tenth Guru would be celebrated on January 7. Certain Sikh organisations criticised the decision as arbitrary.
The Akal Takht Jathedar next announced that the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh would be celebrated on December 28 only. This was accepted by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, which controls the historic gurdwaras in the region.
Explaining why they were celebrating the festival on January 7, Chandigarh Samuh Gurdwara Prabandhak Sangathan general secretary Harjit Singh said that since most local Sikhs had gone to Fatehgrah Sahib to participate in the fair held to mark the martyrdom of the Sahibzadas — the fair began on Friday and will last three days — it was decided to celebrate the Parkash Purab of the Tenth Guru on January 7, the date first announced by the Akal Takht.
Asked about the confusion over celebrations on two dates so far apart, he said that they had taken permission of the Akal Takht Jathedar before finalising the celebration on January 7. “Our religious procession is planned for January 5 from the Sector 34 Gurdwara. Two days later, Guru Gobind Singh’s birth anniversary will be celebrated with religious fervour in gurdwaras across the city,” he said.
On the other hand, Gurdwara Bagh Shaheedan, Sector 44, is busy making last-minute preparations for Guru Gobind Singh’s Parkash Purab celebrations on December 28. Gurdwara manager Jagtar Singh said that the decision came from the Akal Takht and “we are just following their orders’’.
Similarly, two other historical gurdwaras in the Tricity, namely Gurdwara Sri Nadha Sahib in Panchkula and Gurdwara Amb Sahib in Mohali, which are also managed by the SGPC, are celebrating the festival on December 28. The locally managed gurdwaras in Mohali and Panchkula, too, are celebrating on December 28.
But the confusion has cast a shadow on the celebrations. Admitted an SGPC member in Mohali, “Today, we organised nagar kirtan ahead of Parkash Purab but many misconstrued it as a procession to mark the martyrdom of the Sahibzadas.’’
City resident Manjit Singh said there were now three dates for the celebration of Parkash Purab: December 28 based on the Bikrami calendar, January 5 based on the Nanakshahi calendar, and January 7 first announced by the Akal Takht. “I don’t know on which date I should celebrate Guru Gobind Singh’s birthday,” he said.