Guru Nanak's Birthday
When is Guru Nanak's birthday? Where is the first guru's birthplace? How is his birth commemoration celebrated?
Modern day Nankana, Pakistan, originally belonged to the northern region of Punjab. It is the birth place of Nanak Dev, the first guru of the Sikhs. A gurpurab or an annual commemoration of a guru's birth is celebrated in his hometown.
Ancient records indicate Nanak Dev to have been born on the 3rd day of the waxing moon or Sudi 3 in the month of Vaisakh, year 1526 of the Vikram Samvat (also spelled Bikram Sambat) calendar. The Hindu solar calendar based on lunar cycles, and astrological influences, which originated about 57 B.C. is 56 years, 8 months, and 17 days ahead the Western Gregorian calendar which places Guru Nanaks' birth in 1469 A.D.
Janam Saakhis (Birth Fables)
Janam Saakhi narratives which date Guru Nanak’s birth in Katik (mid November) appear to be fanciful fables. Tales bent on discrediting earlier accounts, make it difficult for historians who have been unable to decipher whether Guru Nanak's birth was supposed to have occurred on the lunar or solar Katik.
Fluctuations in lunar based solar calendars, coupled with conflicting historical accounts, resulted to changes being made to the date of Guru Nanak's commemorative gurpurab birthday celebration. Historically, pooran mashi or full moon birthday festivities, were observed on Vaisakh (mid April - mid May) until the Samvat year 1872 (1815 A.D.). Contemporary ceremonies coincide with the full moon in Katik (mid October - mid November).
East West Calendar Conversions
According to the calendar in use in modern day India, Guru Nanak's birthday is calculated to fall during the full moon. The celebration date changes with each subsequent year. Attempts to adjust the calendar to a fixed rather than a variable date, continue to cause controversy. The result is the New Year of the 1998-99 version of the Nanakshahi calendar which commences with the first day of Chet beginning in 1469 as year one (the year of Guru Nanak's birth) with the date of Guru Nanak’s birth affixed to March 14, 1469, of the Western Julian Calendar or 530 Nanakshahi. Subsequent changes subject to ongoing controversy, place Guru Nanak’s birth date fixed on April 14th, 1469. A.D. of the modern day Gregorian calendar, or the first day of Vaisakh with 1999 A.D. corresponding to 531 Nanakshahi. However, most traditional gurpurab celebrations still occur on the full moon between late October and late November.