Nanakshahi calendar engineer, Canada-based Sikh Puriwal scholar dies

One of the architects of the original Nanakshahi calendar that was accepted as a separate calendar for the Sikh community by a large section of its members, the 90-year-old Sikh scholar and former architect Pal Singh Purwal (India Time), died on Thursday afternoon.

The rumor of his death spread a few days ago through social media, but he was alive and in critical condition. According to his family members, he was under the watch of doctors, but breathed his last during the early hours of Thursday (Canada time). Although his family could not be contacted, people close to him, including Gulzar Singh of Edmonton where he lived, confirmed his death. His death represents a major setback for supporters of the original Nanakshahi calendar designed and adopted by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) in 2003. He was a retired engineer, author, researcher and educator.

He immigrated to the United Kingdom in 1965 and worked as a chief engineer for Texas Instruments. He moved to Canada in 1974. He has authored several research papers proving the validity of the Sikh calendar since the 1960s. Among his published texts are: Jantri 500 YEARS – An Almanac, published by the Punjab School Education Board in November 1994, and the Hijri Calendar – a book that was awarded the “Lifetime Achievement” award.

The SGPC adopted and implemented the calendar which has been described as a symbol of Sikhism’s distinct identity, replacing the ancient Bikrami calendar, but has been stirring controversy over certain issues including dates for religious festivals and “gurpurbs”. The SGPC retreated from it under pressure from Damdami Taksal chief Harnam Singh Khalsa led by Saint Samaj, who was allied with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) during the SGPC surveys in 2010. The original was replaced by the new version, which had been modified in light of the old Bikrami calendar, But the name “Nanaxahi Calendar” was retained. Unlike the SGPC, many other gurdwara committees including the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) follow the original version of the Nanakshahi calendar.


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