Sikh Festivals and Observances
The Nanakshahi calendar is a tropical solar calendar used to determine the dates for important Sikh events. It was designed by Pal Singh Purewal to replace the Saka calendar and has been in use since 1998. The epoch of this calendar is the birth of the first Sikh Guru, Nanak Dev in 1469. New Year’s Day falls annually on what is March 14 in the Gregorian Western calendar.
The calendar is accepted in about 90% of the gurdwaras throughout the world.
All the Sikh Gurus taught the message of compassion, love, dedication, hard work, worship of one God and the commitment to peace and harmony for all the peoples of the world.
Guru Arjan Dev Ji (1563 – 1606) was the first Sikh Martyr and the fifth Guru. He built the Harimandir Sahib (Home of the Divine) in which Sikhs could meet to learn, in the town of Amritsar (Pool of Nectar). To emphasize that the Sikh way was open to all, regardless of caste, he constructed the Gurdwara with doors facing all four directions. Sikhs remember Guru Aran Dev Ji for contributing to and compiling the Sikh Scriptures.
Vaisakhi (also spelled Baisakhi) is the festival which celebrates the founding of the Sikh community known as the Khalsa. The Panj Pyare (Five Beloved Ones)were the first members of the new Sikh community called the Khalsa. Guru Gobind Singh gave the Khalsa a unique identity with five distinctive symbols of purity and courage, known today as the Five K’s.
The Guru gave all Khalsa men the surname of Singh (lion) as a reminder to be courageous. Women took on the surname Kaur (princess) to emphasize dignity. With the distinct Khalsa identity, Guru Gobind Singh gave all Sikhs the opportunity to live lives of courage, sacrifice, and equality. These Sikhs were to dedicate their lives to the service of others and the pursuit of justice.
More information is available here: http://www.sikhismguide.org/vaisakhi.aspx
The Sikh calendar is called the Nanakshahi Calendar and takes its name from Guru Nanak, who founded Sikhism.
The year 2017 begins the year 549 in the Sikh Nanakshahi Calendar. It is the first day of Chet, the first month of the Sikh calendar. The Sikh New Year always falls on 14 March.
“Don’t create hatred with anyone as God is within everyone.” ~Guru Arjan Devji, Siri Guru Granth Sahhib