By Ravinder Singh Robin
Amritsar, March 14 : A large number of Sikhs visited the Golden Temple on Friday to mark beginning of the Nanakshahi Samvat (New Year).
They took a dip in the holy pond in the shrine and offered special prayers.
The Nanakshahi Calendar is a solar calendar adopted by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to determine the dates for important Sikh events. It was created by Pal Singh Purewal and replaced the Hindu calendar in 1998. The calendar begins from the birth of the first Sikh Guru, Nanak Dev in 1469.
According to the calendar, the year 2008 is the 540th year of the calendar.
Kuldeep Singh, Parikarma-In-charge of the Temple, said, "Devotees from far flung places have been visiting the temple from early this morning to pay obeisance. They took a holy dip on the occasion of the beginning of the Nanakshahi Calendar." "According to the Nanaksahi Calendar, it is the beginning of the Sikh New Year. We congratulate all Sikhs on this occasion. Devotees from all over the world are visiting here to take a dip," said Manohar Singh, a devotee.
The calendar, however, has been facing objections from few Sikh organizations and is not universally supported by the community.
A majority in the Sikh community believe the calendar is important as it re-affirms the Sikh faith's independence from the Hindu and Muslim faiths.
Meanwhile talking to ANI from the US, Dr. Pritpal Singh, the convener of the American Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (AGPC), said the various Sikh shrines in the US are celebrating the Sikh New Year as per the Nanakshahi Era.
"'Ardas Diwas' or special religious programs are being arranged at the gurdwara in San Jose, Freemont, Stockton in San Francisco and various other gurdwaras in US and Canada," Dr. Pritpal added.