In an age replete with mobile phones and tablets where wall calendars are fast losing their relevance, yet another calendar has made an entry on the 123rd anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar with an aim to reassert the ideals of social reformers and Dalit icons.
Launched by members of the Bahujan Kalyan Parishad, an organisation of Dalit scholars based at Mhow, the birthplace of Ambedkar, it makes a departure from the prevailing formats — Gregorian or the Christian calendar, Vikram Samvat or the Hindu calendar and Hijri, the Muslim calendar — and is based on Buddhabda — the 2,559th birth year of Buddha. The first day of the year begins on April 14, Ambedkar's birthday.
But why bring another new calendar when people are already sticking to the Gregorian calendar and even the most known Indian calendar — the Vikram Samvat — is looked at only by priests to mark auspicious/inauspicious days?
Dr Ramvilas Bharti, the man behind the calendar, has an answer.
"The whole idea is to break the Brahmin stereotyping of the society that even has a hold on dates and days. The culture and lifestyle of the Bahujan Samaj is vastly different and does not require their calendar. They have auspicious/inauspicious days but we believe that all days are equal. It's significant as it is a bold attempt to break from the Brahmin or Forward caste hold on our lives," Bharti said.
Marking a total departure from the current crop of calendars, it has names of months based on Dalit icons or social reformers.
"This is our answer to other calendars whose names of months have been kept after mythological gods or people who had contributed to the particular religion. They don't mention any social reformers like Lord Buddha," Bharti said.
Every month of the Buddhabda calendar has been divided into two 15-day halves and each has been named after a Dalit icon or social reformer. The year starts with the month of Ambedkar, then Buddh, Kabir, Sahuji/Achhutanand, Narayankali, Periyar, Ashok, Birsa Munda, Savitri (Bai Phule), Raidas, Sant Gadge/Sayaji Gaekwad and Phule (Jyotiba).
Bharti and his colleagues think their effort will go a long way in correcting the "anomalies" in Indian history and get the Bahujan Samaj its due in the society. Their aim is to take this calendar to every Dalit home and to those progressive people who don't believe in the Hindu stereotype.