The Sikh Calendar

Nearly every religion of the world has its own system of timekeeping or calendar. With Baisakhi almost here again, it is time to have a deeper knowledge about the ways of the Sikhs. Check out this fascinating article to know about the Sikh calendar in brief. If you like reading about the Sikh calendar, click here and forward this article to your friends or any loved one. Celebrate Baisakhi with!

With increasing migration, greater cultural exchanges and the use of mass media like television, radio and internet, the world has really become shorter for most of us. Nations across the world maintain a standard to share a common ground and facilitate better dealings. Two of these standards are evident in our use of the English language and the Gregorian calendar.

Despite such changes, every religion continues to enjoy the use of its own calendar for its own purposes. These individual calendars, time tables particular to an individual culture and religion, are necessary for keeping records of past incidents as well as fixing the dates of future events that are specific to that culture alone.

The Sikh religion has its own calendar. The Sikh calendar is generally based on the Vikrami Samvat (Bikrami Sammat, in Punjabi), a system of timekeeping that began during the Bikrami era (the period of reign of Raja Vikramaditya of Ujjain, different from Emperor) which began 57 years before the Christian era. Unlike most calendars that are based mainly on solar or lunar positions for time keeping, the Sikh calendar is a luni-solar one, meaning it takes into account the movement of both the sun and moon while calculating time. This makes it similar to the Hindu calendar, which follows a similar pattern. The Sikh year is determined by the time taken by the earth to complete one revolution around the sun. But both lunar and solar divisions are used in calculating each month of the Sikh calendar.

Like most calendars, the Sikh calendar year has 12 months, each of which consists of 29 to 30 days. The week is also conventional, consisting of not more seven days. The month usually begins with the new moon, though some Sikhs consider the full moon the beginning. The full-moon day has great significance in Sikhism, for it was on the full-moon day of the "Kartik" month that Guru Nanak, the greatest spiritual leader of the Sikhs, was born. Much like the leap year in the English calendar, an extra month (known as "Adhikamasa") is added after every three years to the Sikh calendar to adjust it with the solar year.

The Sikh year has six seasons:
  • Vasanta (spring), spread over the months March and April,
  • Grishma (summer), spread over the months May and June,
  • Varsha (monsoon), spread over the months July and August,
  • Sharad (autumn), spread over the months September and October,
  • Hemanta (winter), spread over the months November and December,and
  • Shishira (the cool season), spread over the months January and February.
The harvest season has great importance for the Sikhs as most of them are farmers by profession or have some association with agriculture. Two of the most important Sikh festivals, Baisakhi and Lohri, are linked to farming and are celebrated according to solar dates. Popular festivals such as these are based on the solar calendar and fall on the same day every year. But events such as birth, initiation and death of the Gurus are indicated by lunar dates.

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