Kids Corner









Resource Library

A Happy New (Nanakshahi) Year!



A Happy New Nanakshahi Year!

It's New Year's! Year 541 on the Nanakshahi Calendar.

Happy New Year!

It's time to look forward to what will unfold in the following twelve months of this wondrous drama that we call life.

One of my duties at my workplace is to program every month an outdoor digital sign at a retail store to display faith greetings to people of various religions on the occasion of any special event during the month.

One of my reference resources for this monthly task has been the excellent interactive multi-faith calendar at the PBS website (

This year, I was pleasantly surprised that, in addition to mentioning the Hindu New Year which occurs on March 27th as they enter the year Bikarami Samvat 2066 of their calendar, it also makes note of the Sikh New Year which occurs on March 14 as we enter the year Nanakshahi 541 of our own calendar.

March 14 is a very special day as it is the first day of Chet; Chet being the first month of the year of our twelve-month Sikh calendar which dates back to the time of the Gurus.

Our calendar starts with the birth of Guru Nanak, 541 years ago.

The twelve months of the Sikh Calendar and the dates that they begin are:

Chet........... March 14

Vaisakh ...... April 14

Jeth ........... May 15

Haarrh ....... June 15

Saavan ...... July 16

Bhaadon .... August 16

Asu ........... September 15

Katik ......... October 15

Maghar ...... November 14

Poh ........... December 14

Magh ......... January 13

Phagan ...... February 12


So this year, Saturday, March 14, is the day to wish your family and friends a Happy Sikh New Year, and to remind your community gurdwara that they should be celebrating it with as much fanfare as they celebrate that other New Year's ... January 1.

The months of the Sikh calendar were first established by the Gurus. Both Guru Nanak and Guru Arjan wrote beautiful verses about the twelve months of the Sikh calendar. They appear in the Guru Granth under the title of Bara Maah, literally, the "Twelve Months."

Below is an excerpt from Guru Nanak's Bara Maah; it appears on pages 1108 to 1109 of the Guru Granth.


In the month of Chet, the lovely spring has come, and the bumble bees hum with joy. The forest is blossoming in front of my door; if only my Beloved would return to my home! If her Husband Lord does not return home, how can the soul-bride find peace? Her body is wasting away with the sorrow of separation. The beautiful song-bird sings, perched on the mango tree; but how can I endure the pain in the depths of my being? The bumble bee is buzzing around the flowering branches; but how can I survive? I am dying, O my mother! O Nanak, in Chet, peace is easily obtained, if the soul-bride obtains the Lord as her Husband, within the home of her own heart. || 5 ||


Vaisakh is so pleasant; the branches blossom with new leaves. The soul-bride yearns to see the Lord at her door. Come, O Lord, and take pity on me! Please come home, O my Beloved; carry me across the treacherous world-ocean. Without You, I am not worth even a shell. Who can estimate my worth, if I am pleasing to You? I see You, and inspire others to see You, O my Love. I know that You are not far away; I believe that You are deep within me, and I realize Your Presence. O Nanak, finding God in Vaisakh, the consciousness is filled with the Word of the Shabad, and the mind comes to believe. || 6 ||


The month of Jeth is so sublime. How could I forget my Beloved? The earth burns like a furnace, and the soul-bride offers her prayer. The bride offers her prayer, and sings His Glorious Praises; singing His Praises, she becomes pleasing to God. The Unattached Lord dwells in His true mansion. If He allows me, then I will come to Him. The bride is dishonoured and powerless; how will she find peace without her Lord? O Nanak, in Jeth, she who knows her Lord becomes just like Him; grasping virtue, she meets with the Merciful Lord. || 7 ||


The month of Asaarrh (Haarrh) is good; the sun blazes in the sky. The earth suffers in pain, parched and roasted in the fire. The fire dries up the moisture, and she dies in agony. But even then, the sun does not grow tired. His chariot moves on, and the soul-bride seeks shade; the crickets are chirping in the forest. She ties up her bundle of faults and demerits, and suffers in the world hereafter. But dwelling on the True Lord, she finds peace. O Nanak, I have given this mind to Him; death and life rest with God. || 8 ||


In Saavan, be happy, O my mind. The rainy season has come, and the clouds have burst into showers. My mind and body are pleased by my Lord, but my Beloved has gone away. My Beloved has not come home, and I am dying of the sorrow of separation. The lightning flashes, and I am scared. My bed is lonely, and I am suffering in agony. I am dying in pain, O my mother! Tell me - without the Lord, how can I sleep, or feel hungry? My clothes give no comfort to my body. O Nanak, she alone is a happy soul-bride, who merges in the Being of her Beloved Husband Lord. || 9 ||


In Bhaadon, the young woman is confused by doubt; later, she regrets and repents. The lakes and fields are overflowing with water; the rainy season has come - the time to celebrate! In the dark of night it rains; how can the young bride find peace? The frogs and peacocks send out their noisy calls. "Pri-o! Pri-o! Beloved! Beloved!" cries the sparrow-hawk, while the snakes slither around, biting. The mosquitoes bite and sting, and the ponds are filled to overflowing; without the Lord, how can she find peace? O Nanak, I will go and ask my Guru; wherever God is, there I will go. || 10 ||


In Asu, come, my Beloved; the soul-bride is grieving to death. She can only meet Him, when God leads her to meet Him; she is ruined by the love of duality. If she is plundered by falsehood, then her Beloved forsakes her. Then, the white flowers of old age blossom in my hair. Summer is now behind us, and the winter season is ahead. Gazing upon this play, my shaky mind wavers. In all ten directions, the branches are green and alive. That which ripens slowly, is sweet. O Nanak, in Asu, please meet me, my Beloved. The True Guru has become my Advocate and Friend. || 11 ||


In Katik, that alone comes to pass, which is pleasing to the Will of God. The lamp of intuition burns, lit by the essence of reality. Love is the oil in the lamp, which unites the soul-bride with her Lord. The bride is delighted, in ecstasy. One who dies in faults and demerits - her death is not successful. But one who dies in glorious virtue, really truly dies. Those who are blessed with devotional worship of the Naam, the Name of the Lord, sit in the home of their own inner being. They place their hopes in You. Nanak: please open the shutters of Your Door, O Lord, and meet me. A single moment is like six months to me. || 12 ||


The month of Maghar is good, for those who sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord, and merge in His Being. The virtuous wife utters His Glorious Praises; my Beloved Husband Lord is Eternal and Unchanging. The Primal Lord is Unmoving and Unchanging, Clever and Wise; all the world is fickle. By virtue of spiritual wisdom and meditation, she merges in His Being; she is pleasing to God, and He is pleasing to her. I have heard the songs and the music, and the poems of the poets; but only the Name of the Lord takes away my pain. O Nanak, that soul-bride is pleasing to her Husband Lord, who performs loving devotional worship before her Beloved. || 13 ||


In Poh, the snow falls, and the sap of the trees and the fields dries up. Why have You not come? I keep You in my mind, body and mouth. He is permeating and pervading my mind and body; He is the Life of the World. Through the Word of the Guru's Shabad, I enjoy His Love. His Light fills all those born of eggs, born from the womb, born of sweat and born of the earth, each and every heart. Grant me the Blessed Vision of Your Darshan, O Lord of Mercy and Compassion. O Great Giver, grant me understanding, that I might find salvation. O Nanak, the Lord enjoys, savors and ravishes the bride who is in love with Him. || 14 ||


In Magh, I become pure; I know that the sacred shrine of pilgrimage is within me. I have met my Friend with intuitive ease; I grasp His Glorious Virtues, and merge in His Being. O my Beloved, Beauteous Lord God, please listen: I sing Your Glories, and merge in Your Being. If it is pleasing to Your Will, I bathe in the sacred pool within. The Ganges, Jamuna, the sacred meeting place of the three rivers, the seven seas, charity, donations, adoration and worship all rest in the Transcendent Lord God; throughout the ages, I realize the One. O Nanak, in Magh, the most sublime essence is meditation on the Lord; this is the cleansing bath of the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage. || 15 ||


In Phagan, her mind is enraptured, pleased by the Love of her Beloved. Night and day, she is enraptured, and her selfishness is gone. Emotional attachment is eradicated from her mind, when it pleases Him; in His Mercy, He comes to my home. I dress in various clothes, but without my Beloved, I shall not find a place in the Mansion of His Presence. I have adorned myself with garlands of flowers, pearl necklaces, scented oils and silk robes. O Nanak, the Guru has united me with Him. The soul-bride has found her Husband Lord, within the home of her own heart. || 16 ||

The twelve months, the seasons, the weeks, the days, the hours, the minutes and the seconds are all sublime, when the True Lord comes and meets her with natural ease. God, my Beloved, has met me, and my affairs are all resolved. The Creator Lord knows all ways and means. I am loved by the One who has embellished and exalted me; I have met Him, and I savour His Love.


All translations are adapted from Dr. Sant Singh Khalsa.

[Sandeep Singh Brar is an Internet technologist and creator of the world's first Sikh website, and the new]

March 13, 2009

Conversation about this article

1: Tejwant (U.S.A.), March 14, 2009, 5:13 PM.

Sandeep said, "March 14 is a very special day as it is the first day of Chet; Chet being the first month of the year of our twelve-month Sikh calendar which dates back to the time of the Gurus. Our calendar starts with the birth of Guru Nanak, 541 years ago." You mean we have been celebrating Guru Nanak's birthday on the wrong date for so many years? Then, according to you, today is the Gurpurab of Guru Nanak? If it is, then why not 'Happy Gurpurab'?

2: Sandeep Singh Brar (Canada), March 15, 2009, 10:33 PM.

Most Janamsakhis and early Sikh literature seem to agree that Guru Nanak was born on Vaisakh Sudi 3, 1526 Bikrami (April 15, 1469). Puratan Janamsakhi and Miharban Janamsakhi both mention Vaisakh Sudi 3 as the day of Guru Nanak's birth, but the Bala Janamsakhi which is not as old gives it as the full moon day of Kartik (in November). Old manuscript copies of Bhai Mani Singh's Janamsakhi also gives Vaisakh as the birth date. The Guru Nanak Bans Prakash of Sukhbasi Rai, a direct descendant of Guru Nanak, also gives Vaisakh as the date of birth. Mahima Prakash by Sarup Dass Bhalla also mentions Vaisakh.

3: Tejwant  (U.S.A.), March 16, 2009, 12:27 PM.

Sandeep, thanks for the clarifications ... or, shall we say, justifications. So is it Happy New Year or Happy Gurpurub? Or this Nanakshahi Calendar does nothing but inflate the egos of a few Sikhs? The fact is if Guru Nanak wanted to have Nanakshahi calendar, he would have done so. Wouldn't he have? So my question to all those who embrace this self-invented, pat-in-the-back thing which still does not coincide with the correct birthday of Guru Nanak, Is it Sikhi to undermine our Gurus' vision and impose our own as theirs?

4: Devinder Singh Chahal (Laval, Quebec, Canada), March 21, 2009, 7:49 AM.

I appreciate the efforts of Sardar Pal Singh Purewal for constructing a calendar named after the founder of Sikhi. There are some objections from some corners, though. If this calendar is to be named after the founder of Sikhi, then it should start on his date of birth. I also understand that there is some confusion about the date of birth of Guru Nanak. Is there any possibility to fix any suitable date of birth of Guru Nanak, for example, the first of Vaisakh, so that the calendar can start from that date?

Comment on "A Happy New (Nanakshahi) Year!"

To help us distinguish between comments submitted by individuals and those automatically entered by software robots, please complete the following.

Please note: your email address will not be shown on the site, this is for contact and follow-up purposes only. All information will be handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy. Sikhchic reserves the right to edit or remove content at any time.