Nanakshahi calendar

The Nanakshahi (Punjabi: ਨਾਨਕਸ਼ਾਹੀ, nānakashāhī) calendar is a tropical solar calendar which is used in Sikhism and is based on the 'Barah Maha' (Punjabi: ਬਾਰਹ ਮਾਹਾ). Barah Maha was composed by the Sikh Gurus and translates as the "Twelve Months". It is a poem reflecting the changes in nature which are conveyed in the twelve-month cycle of the Year.[1] The year begins with the month of Chet, with 1 Chet corresponding to 14 March. The first year of the Nanakshahi Calendar starts in 1469 CE: the year of the birth of Guru Nanak Dev.[2]


The Nanakshahi Calendar is named after the founder of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak Dev.[3]


Sikhs have traditionally recognised two eras and luni-solar calendars: the Nanakshahi and Khalsa. Traditionally, both these calendars closely followed the Bikrami calendar with the Nanakshahi year beginning on Katak Pooranmashi (full moon) and the Khalsa year commencing with Vaisakhi.[4] The methods for calculating the beginning of the Khalsa era were based on the Bikrami calendar. The year length was also the same as the Bikrami solar year.[5] According to Steel (2000), (since the calendar was based on the Bikrami), the calendar has twelve lunar months that are determined by the lunar phase, but thirteen months in leap years which occur every 2-3 years in the Bikrami calendar to sync the lunar calendar with its solar counterpart.[6] References to the Nanakshahi Era have been made in historic documents.[7] Banda Singh Bahadur adopted the Nanakshahi calendar in 1710 C.E. after his victory in Sirhand (12 May 1710 C.E.)[8] according to which the year 1710 C.E. became Nanakshahi 241. However, according to Dilagira (1997), he "continued adopting the months and the days of the months according to the Bikrami calendar".[9] Banda Singh Bahadur also minted new coins also called Nanakshahi.[10]

The revised Nanakshahi calendar was designed by Pal Singh Purewal to replace the Bikrami calendar.[11] The epoch of this calendar is the birth of the first Sikh Guru, Nanak Dev in 1469 and the Nanakshahi year commences on 1 Chet. New Year's Day falls annually on what is March 14 in the Gregorian Western calendar.[12] The start of each month is fixed.[13] According to Kapel (2006), the solar accuracy of the Nanakshahi calendar is linked to the Gregorian civil calendar.[14] This is because the Nanaskhahi calendar uses the tropical year[15] instead of using the sidereal year which is used in the Bikrami calendar or the old Nanakshahi and Khalsa calendars.

The amended Nanakshahi calendar was adopted in 1998[16] but implemented in 2003[17][18] by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee to determine the dates for important Sikh events. The calendar was implemented during the SGPC presidency of Sikh scholar Prof. Kirpal Singh Badungar at Takhat Sri Damdama Sahib in the presence of Sikh leadership.[12] Nanakshahi Calendar recognizes the adoption event, of 1999 CE, in the Sikh history when SGPC released the first calendar with permanently fixed dates in the Tropical Calendar. Therefore, the calculations of this calendar do not regress back from 1999 CE into the Bikrami era, and accurately fixes for all time in the future.[19]

Features of the Nanakshahi Calendar (2003)

Features of the Original Nanakshahi calendar (2003 Version):[20][21]

  • Uses the accurate Tropical year (365 Days, 5 Hours, 48 Minutes, 45 Seconds) rather than the Sidereal year
  • Called Nanakshahi after Guru Nanak (Founder of Sikhism)
  • Year 1 is the Year of Guru Nanak's Birth (1469 C.E.). As an example, August 31, 2018 CE is Nanakshahi 550.
  • Is Based on Gurbani[22] - Month Names are taken from Guru Granth Sahib[23]
  • 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
  • Approved by Akal Takht in 2003[24]


No.NamePunjabiDaysGregorian MonthsSeason[25]
1Chetਚੇਤ3114 March – 13 AprilBasant (Spring)
2Vaisakhਵੈਸਾਖ3114 April – 14 MayBasant (Spring)
3Jethਜੇਠ3115 May – 14 JuneGarikham (Summer)
4Harhਹਾੜ3115 June – 15 JulyGarisham (Summer)
5Sawanਸਾਵਣ3116 July – 15 AugustRut Baras (Rainy season)
6Bhadonਭਾਦੋਂ3016 August – 14 SeptemberRut Baras (Rainy season)
7Assuਅੱਸੂ3015 September – 14 OctoberSard (Autumn)
8Katakਕੱਤਕ3015 October – 13 NovemberSard (Autumn)
9Magharਮੱਘਰ3014 November – 13 DecemberSisiar (Winter)
10Pohਪੋਹ3014 December – 12 JanuarySisiar (Winter)
11Maghਮਾਘ3013 January – 11 FebruaryHimkar (late Winter/early Spring)
12Phagunਫੱਗਣ30/3112 February – 13 MarchHimkar (late Winter/early Spring)


In 2010, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee ("SGPC") modified the calendar so that the dates for the start of the months are movable so that they coincide with the Bikrami calendar and changed the dates for various Sikh festivals so they are based upon the lunar phase. This has created controversy with some bodies adopting the original 2003 version, also called the "Mool Nanakshahi Calendar"[26] and others, the 2010 version.[27] By 2014, the SGPC had scrapped the original Nanakshahi calendar from 2003 and reverted back to the Bikrami calendar entirely, however it was still published under the name of Nanakshahi.[28] The Sikh bodies termed it a step taken under pressure from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Shiromani Akali Dal.[29] There is also some controversy about the acceptance of the calendar altogether among certain sectors of the Sikh world.[21]

SGPC president, Gobind Singh Longowal, on 13 March 2018 urged all Sikhs to follow the current (2010) Nanakshahi calendar.[30] The previous SGPC President before Longowal, Prof. Kirpal Singh Badungar, tried to appeal the Akal Takht to celebrate the birthday of Guru Gobind Singh on 5 January as per the original Nanakshahi calendar, but the appeal was denied.[31] The Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and a majority of the other gurdwara managements across the world are opposing the modified version of the calendar citing that the SGPC reverted to the Bikrami calendar. They argue that in the Bikrami calendar, dates of many gurpurbs coincide, thereby creating confusion among the Sikh Panth.[29]

According to Ahaluwalia (2003), the Nanakshahi calendar goes against the use of lunar Bikrami dates by the Gurus themselves and is contradictory. It begins with the year of birth of Guru Nanak Dev, but the first date, 1 Chet, is when Guru Har Rai was installed the seventh Guru.[32] However, the first date of the Nanakshahi calendar (1 Chet) is based upon the Barah Maha of the Guru Granth Sahib, which has Chet as the first month.[33] Pal Singh Purewal, as reported in the Edmonton Journal (March 2018) has stated that his aims in formulating the Nanakshahi calendar were, "first and foremost, it should respect sacred holy scriptures. Second, it should discard the lunar calendar and use only a solar one. Third, all the dates should be fixed and not vary from year to year."[28] In reality however, state Haar and Kalsi (2009), the introduction of the Nanakshahi calendar has resulted in many festivals being "celebrated on two dates depending on the choice of the management of the local gurdwaras."[34]

Months (2010 version)

The start date of the months in the current Nanakshahi calendar are not fixed.[35]

No.NamePunjabiGregorian MonthsSeason[36]
1ChetਚੇਤMarch – AprilBasant (Spring)
2VaisakhਵੈਸਾਖApril – MayBasant (Spring)
3JethਜੇਠMay – JuneGarikham (Summer)
4HarhਹਾੜJune – JulyGarisham (Summer)
5SawanਸਾਵਣJuly – AugustRut Baras (Rainy season)
6BhadonਭਾਦੋਂAugust – SeptemberRut Baras (Rainy season)
7AssuਅੱਸੂSeptember – OctoberSard (Autumn)
8KatakਕੱਤਕOctober – NovemberSard (Autumn)
9MagharਮੱਘਰNovember – DecemberSisiar (Winter)
10PohਪੋਹDecember – JanuarySisiar (Winter)
11MaghਮਾਘJanuary – FebruaryHimkar (late Winter/early Spring)
12PhagunਫੱਗਣFebruary – MarchHimkar (late Winter/early Spring)

Festivals and events (2003 version)

Dates of observance of festivals as determined by reference to the 2003 version.

Festivals and events (Original Nanakshahi calendar)[37] Nanakshahi date Gregorian date
Guru Har Rai becomes the 7th Guru
Nanakshahi New Year Commences
1 Chet14 Mar
Guru Hargobind merges back to the Creator6 Chet19 Mar
The ordination of the Khalsa
Birth of Guru Nanak (Vaisakhi Date)[38]
1 Vaisakh14 Apr
Guru Angad merges back to the Creator
Guru Amar Das becomes the 3rd Guru
Guru Harkrishan merges back to the Creator
Guru Tegh Bahadur becomes the 9th Guru
3 Vaisakh16 Apr
Birth of Guru Angad, the 2nd Guru
Birth of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the 9th Guru
5 Vaisakh18 Apr
Birth of Guru Arjan, the 5th Guru19 Vaisakh2 May
Birth of Guru Amar Das, the 3rd Guru9 Jeth23 May
Guru Hargobind becomes the 6th Guru28 Jeth11 Jun
Guru Arjan, the 5th Guru, is martyred2 Harh16 Jun
Foundation Day of the Akaal Takht18 Harh16 Jun
Birth of Guru Hargobind, the 6th Guru21 Harh5 Jul
Miri-Piri is established by Guru Hargobind6 Sawan21 Jul
Birth of Guru Harkrishan, the 8th Guru8 Sawan23 Jul
The writing of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Scripture, is completed15 Bhadon30 Aug
Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Scripture, is installed at the Golden Temple for the first time17 Bhadon1 Sep
Guru Amar Das merges back to the Creator
Guru Ram Das becomes the 4th Guru
Guru Ram Das merges back to the Creator
Guru Arjan becomes the 5th Guru
2 Assu16 Sep
Guru Angad becomes the 2nd Guru4 Assu18 Sep
Guru Nanak merges back to the Creator8 Assu22 Sep
Birth of Guru Ram Das, the 4th Guru25 Assu9 Oct
Guru Har Rai merges back to the Creator
Guru Harkrishan becomes the 8th Guru
The Guru Granth Sahib is declared as the Guru for all times to come by Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th and the last human Guru
6 Katak20 Oct
Guru Gobind Singh merges back to the Creator7 Katak21 Oct
Guru Gobind Singh becomes the 10th Guru11 Maghar24 Nov
Guru Tegh Bahadur martyred in Delhi by Aurangzeb for defending the oppressed11 Maghar24 Nov
Ajit Singh, and Jujhar Singh, the two elder sons of Guru Gobind Singh, martyred in the battle of Chamkaur8 Poh21 Dec
Zorawar Singh, and Fateh Singh, the two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh, executed in Sirhind13 Poh26 Dec
Birth of Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Guru23 Poh5 Jan
Birth of Guru Har Rai, the 7th Guru19 Magh31 Jan

Movable dates for Sikh Festivals in the 2003 and 2010 versions. (These change every year in line with the Lunar Phase)[39]

Year Hola Mohalla Bandi Chhor Divas Birth of Guru Nanak Dev
200319 Mar25 Oct8 Nov
20047 Mar12 Nov26 Nov
200526 Mar1 Nov15 Nov
200615 Mar21 Oct5 Nov
20074 Mar9 Nov24 Nov
200822 Mar28 Oct13 Nov
200911 Mar17 Oct2 Nov
20101 Mar5 Nov21 Nov
201120 Mar26 Oct10 Nov
20129 Mar13 Nov28 Nov
201328 Mar3 Nov17 Nov
201417 Mar23 Oct6 Nov
20156 Mar11 Nov25 Nov
201624 Mar30 Oct14 Nov
201713 Mar19 Oct4 Nov
20182 Mar7 Nov23 Nov
201921 Mar27 Oct12 Nov
202010 Mar14 Nov30 Nov

See also


  1. W. H. McLeod (2009). The A to Z of Sikhism. Scarecrow Press.
  2. Singh, Jagraj (2009). A complete guide to Sikhism. Unistar Books.
  3. J. Gordon Melton, Martin Baumann (2010) Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition [6 volumes]. ABC-Clio
  4. Singh, Harbans (1998) The Encyclopaedia of Sikhism: S-Z. Publications Bureau
  5. Proceedings - Punjab History Conference, Volume 27, Part 1 (1996) Punjabi University
  6. Steel, Duncan (2000) v. Wiley
  7. Harajindara Siṅgha Dilagīra, A. T. Kerr (1995) Akal Takht Sahib. Sikh Educational Trust in collaboration with the Sikh University Centre, Denmark
  8. Gandhi, Surjit Singh (1999) Sikhs in the Eighteenth Century: Their Struggle for Survival and Supremacy. Singh Bros
  9. Dilagīra, Harajindara Singha (1997) The Sikh Reference Book. Sikh Educational Trust for Sikh University Centre, Denmark
  10. Dhillon, Harish (2013) First Raj of the Sikhs: The Life and Times of Banda Singh Bahadur. Hay House
  11. Chilana, Rajwant Singh (2006) International Bibliography of Sikh Studies. Springer Science & Business Media
  12. 1 2 "What is the Sikh Nanakshahi calendar". Archived from the original on 2008-05-10. Retrieved 2008-05-09.
  13. Abstracts of Sikh Studies, Volume 5 (2003) Institute of Sikh Studies,
  14. Kepel, Martin (2006) The Structure and Mathematics of the Principal Calendars of the Western World: Muslim, Gregorian, Jewish, and Other Systems. Edwin Mellen Press
  15. Melton, J. Gordon (2011) Religious Celebrations: L-Z. ABC-Clio
  16. Louis E. Fenech, W. H. McLeod (2014) Historical Dictionary of Sikhism. Rowman & Littlefield
  17. Knut A. Jacobsen (2008) South Asian Religions on Display: Religious Processions in South Asia and in the Diaspora. Routledge
  18. Nesbitt, Eleanor (2016) Sikhism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press
  19. Bodiwala, Community Contributor Suresh. "Sikh Religious Society Organizes Two -day Conference in Chicago to Implement Mool Nanakshahi Calendar". Naperville Sun. Retrieved 2018-03-29.
  20. Abstracts of Sikh Studies, Volume 5 (2003) Institute of Sikh Studies
  21. 1 2 "Nanakshahi Calendar at BBC". BBC. 2003-07-29. Retrieved 2008-05-09.
  22. Singh Purewal, Pal. "Gurbani And Nanakshahi Calendar" (PDF). Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  23. "Bara Maha - SikhiWiki, free Sikh encyclopedia". Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  24. Parkash, Chander (14 March 2003). "Nanakshahi calendar out". The Tribune. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  25. Kohli, Surindar Singh (1992) A Conceptual Encyclopaedia of Guru Granth Sahib.Manohar Publishers & Distributors
  26. Chicago Tribune (18.11.2017) Sikh Religious Society Organizes Two-day Conference in Chicago to Implement Mool Nanakshahi Calendar
  27. Singh, Surjit( 06.03.2018) Hindustan Times) HT Explainer: Know about the controversial Nanakshahi calendar
  28. 1 2 Sikhs around world celebrate new year using Edmonton man's calendar (14.03.2018) Edmonton Journal by Juris Graney
  29. 1 2 Singh, Surjit (6 March 2018). "HT Explainer: Know about the controversial Nanakshahi calendar". Hindustan Times. HT Media. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  30. Tribune India (14.03.2018) SGPC: Follow Nanakshahi calendar
  31. Singh, Surjit (13 November 2017). "Guru Gobind Singh's birth anniversary: Akal Takht rejects SGPC plea to extend parkash parv date". Hindustan Times. HT Media. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  32. Āhalūwālīā, Jasabīra Siṅgha (2003) Liberating Sikhism from 'the Sikhs': Sikhisim's [sic] Potential for World Civilization. Unistar books
  33. Singh Purewal, Pal. "Reply to Mr. Gurcharanjit Singh Lamba's criticism of Nanakshahi Calendar first implemented in 1999 CE" (PDF). Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  34. Haar, Kristen and Kalsi, Sewa Singh (2009) Sikhism. Infobase Publishing
  35. J. Gordon Melton, Martin Baumann (2010) Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition [6 volumes]. ABC-Clio
  36. Kohli, Surindar Singh (1992) A Conceptual Encyclopaedia of Guru Granth Sahib.Manohar Publishers & Distributors
  37. Singh Purewal, Pal. "Gurpurbs (Fixed Dates)" (PDF). Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  38. Singh Purewal, Pal. "Birth Date of Guru Nanak Sahib" (PDF). Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  39. Singh Purewal, Pal. "Movable Dates of Gurpurbs (Change Every Year)" (PDF). Retrieved 13 March 2018.
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