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by Pal Singh Purewal

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This page was last updated on February 15th 2000.

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The solar year of the Bikrami Samvat begins on the first of Vaisakh, when the sun enters into the AIekh rasi (Arics sign). in the year 522, CE Vaisakhi occurred on 19th March, the day of the spring equinox. The Bikrami solar year was longer than the Julian year. This caused Vaisakhi to occur later by 1 day every 114 years on the average. In 1469 CE, it occurred on 27th March. Even the length of the Julian year was a little longer than the length of the true solar year. In 325 CE, spring equinox was on 21st March. But, because of the incorrect length of the Julian year, the spring equinox was also occurring earlie by 1 day every 128 years. By the year 1582 CE, the spring equinox occurred on 11th March.

Pope Gregory ordered corrections to the Julian calendar and ordained that 5th October, 1582 will be designated as 15th October. thus dropping 10 dates from the calendar.

Some European countries implemented this change in 1582 CE and adopted the Gregorian calendar. United States and England adopted it in 1752 CE when the difference between the old and new calendars had become 11 days. These countries switched over to the Gregorian calendar designating 3rd September,1752 as 14 th September, dropping 11 dates from the calendar for that year. With this correction, the spring equinox started occurring again on 20th or 21st March each year.

In 1752 CE, Vaisakhi occurred on 29th March, but next year in 1753 CE it occurred on 9th April because of the above correction of 11 days; viz., switching over from Julian to Gregorian calendar. The gradual shifting of Vaisakhi from 9th April, 1752 CE to 13th or 14th April in more recent years is because the Bikrami year is not a true solar year. its year is sidereal and it is longer than a solar year.


The time it takes the sun in its apparent motion to go through the 12 rasis (signs) starting from the first point of Aries (Mekh), is called solar year. Its length is 365 days 5 hours 48 minutes and 46 seconds, i.e., 365.2422 days.

The Bikrami solar year actually is not a solar year but a sidereal year. The first point of Aries (Mekh) in the Indian system is fixed in space in the background of stars, but in the Western system it has a retrograde motion of 50.3 seconds of arc. To complete a revolution of the Indian zodiac, the sun has to cover this extra 50.3 seconds of arc which is equivalent to 20 minutes and 24.5 seconds in time. That is why the Bikrami year is longer than the true solar year by the same length of time.

The length of the year according to Surya Sidhanta is 365 days, 6 hours, 12 minutes and 36 seconds. This length had been used by almanac makers up to the nineteen sixties. This length was wrong. The correct length of the sidereal year is 365 days 6 hours, 9 minutes and 9.8 seconds. Now-a-days many almanac makers use this length of the year, and calculate sankrantis on the basis of this year.

Though the present day almanac makers have discarded the Surya Sidhantic length of the year, they are still adhering to the sidereal year instead of the solar year. As has been mentioned earlier, this sidereal year is longer than the solar year by 20 minutes and 24.5 seconds. As a result of this, Vaisakhi will occur later by 1 day every 70.56 years, on the average.

The calculation of the beginning of the Khalsa Samvat and all sankrantis is based on the Bikrami Samvat and its year length is the same as that of the Bikrami 'solar' year.

If the length of the Khalsa Samvat is not changed to the length of the true solar year, then Vaisakhi will go on advancing in relation to the Common Era calendar and in 13,000 years it will start occurring in middle of October, and other months will also occur in opposite seasons. It will be summer in Poh and winter in Har, wheat will be sown in Jeth and spring will be in Asu . There will be complete reversal of seasons in relation to the Indian months. Because of this wrong length of the year, the seasons will be opposite to those as given with the month names under Barah Mahas and Ruti Gurbani.

For the rectification of this problem, the following suggestions and possible alternatives are offered for a new calendar for Nanakshahi Samvat, so that its months become fixed in relation to seasons for all time to come.

1. The Khalsa or the Nanakshahi Samvat should be divorced from Bikrami Samvat. We should lead m reform rather than wait until Panchang makers decide to reform the Bikrami calendar. As has been mentioned, reforms to calendars have been done before. Even most Indian Panckang makers discarded Saliva Sidhant in favour of modern astronomical formulas for calculating the Panchangas. The Panchangas, lantris and Tith Patrikas published in Punjab have all switched over to the modern methods. The sankrantis calculated on the basis of Surya Sidhanta and modern methods, may in some cases differ by 1 day.

2. The beginning of the Khalsa Samvat be fixed in relation to the Common Era. Many dates are worth considering. Vaisakhi may be fixed on April 1. This date is close to the spring equinox. Sankrantis were very close to date 1 of the Julian calendar m 1699, the year of the creation of the Khalsa. From 1469 to September 1752, sankrantis occurred close to date 1st of each month of the Julian calendar. With the change to Gregorian calendar in 1752, sankrantis moved ahead by 11 days.

Switching over Vaisakki from 13-14 April to 1st April might be too drastic a change and might not go well with the Sikh masses, and its implementation would need drastically changing the length of the month of Chet just once at the time of change over.

The next date to consider is 14th April, which may probably be the most acceptable date for fixing Vaisakhi.

3. The next step is to fax the number of days in each month. The following scheme would keep the beginning of all months very close to the dates of the present sankrantis:

Chet, Vaisakh, Jeth, Harh, and Sawan: 31 days each;

Bhadon, Asu, Katik, Maghar, Poh, Magi, and Phagun: 30 days each.

Phagun may have 31 days in a leap year.

4.With the suggestions outlined above the sankrantis (lst day) of each month would correspond to the Common Era as follows

	1.  Chet :    14th March
	2.  Vaisakh:  14th April
	3.  Jeth:     15th May
	4.  Harh:     15th June
	5.  Sawan:    16th July
	6.  Bhadon:   16th August
	7.  Asu:      15th September
	8.  Katik:    15th October
	9.  Maghar:   14th November
	10. Poh:      14th December
	11. Magh:     13th January
	12. Phagun:   12th February

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