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Sikh High Priests Divided On Calendar Issue

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Sikh high priests divided on calendar issue

Akal Takht Jathedar invites suggestions in writing

Perneet Singh

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 18

A day after former Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti released the “original” Nanakshahi Calendar, the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Gurbachan Singh, today appealed to the Sikh high priests as well as former Jathedars not to create any controversy on the issue, while stating that anybody having any suggestion could submit the same in writing to Akal Takht or the SGPC.

Though Takht Damdama Sahib Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh and the Takht Patna Sahib Jathedar, Giani Iqbal Singh, hold contrasting views on the calendar and have been airing these in the media as well, the Akal Takht Jathedar stepped in to douse the flames of controversy only after Jathedar Vedanti, in an apparent act of defiance, released the “original” Nanakshahi Calendar for the New Year near the Golden Temple yesterday. Giani Gurbachan Singh today claimed that the basic character of the calendar had not been tampered with at all and no amendments had been made to it. “However, in view of some issues emerging from it, a few corrections have been made for the unity of the community. These corrections, too, have been made with the consensus of various committees formed on the issue as well as the Sant Samaj,” he said. According to him, Jathedar Vedanti’s utterances “don’t have any importance”, but added that such statements did create a dilemma in the community.

However, like Jathedar Vedanti, Jathedar Nandgarh is also supporting the “original” Nanakshahi Calendar of 2003. Talking to The Tribune, Jathedar Nandgarh said,”I had warned them not to make amendments to the original calendar in haste. I had asked them to call Pal Singh Purewal, architect of the Nanakshahi Calendar, and other experts and discuss with them the changes they wanted to make, but nobody paid heed to me. I would have no problem with the amendments had they called Purewal and convinced him with their arguments.” The Nanakshahi Calendar was a symbol of the separate Sikh identity which came into being after a thorough discussion in the community and consent from all quarters, he added.

On the contrary, the Takht Patna Sahib Jathedar, Giani Iqbal Singh, said the “amended” Nanakshahi Calendar had been adopted with the consent of the Jathedars of all five Takhts and those opposing it were “playing into the hands of anti-Panthic forces”.

Meanwhile, politics over the issue is also hotting up. DSGMC chief Paramjit Singh Sarna and former Akali minister Manjeet Singh Calcutta have, in a joint statement, advocated the need for maintaining the “original” form of the calendar and implementing it with the consensus of the entire community. Similarly, the Dal Khalsa, a radical organisation, has praised Jathedar Vedanti and Jathedar Nandgarh for taking a stand in support of the “original” calendar.

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