The Sinhala and Hindu New Year | Sunday Observer

The Sinhala and Hindu New Year

Today, (April 14, 2019) is the dawn of the Sinhala and Hindu New Year. It is the Koha's (Koel bird’s) call, which first breaks the news that the Sinhala and Hindu New year is round the corner.

The entire nation is wide awake in anticipation for the auspicious hour to dawn when communities unite as one to kindle the prosperity's hearth and light the lamp of hope to herald the advent of another new year.

The New Year is celebrated with splendour and rituals. The transition of the Sun from the House of Pisces to the House of Aries marks the beginning of the Aluth Avurudu (in Sinhala) and Puthandu (in Tamil) and is usually celebrated on April 14 every year.

The country takes on a festive air as people get ready for the celebrations by cleaning their homes, shopping and making New Year sweetmeats, to begin the New Year on a joyous note.

The sound of firecrackers and the rhythm of the rabana (a one-sided traditional drum) signal the dawn of a new beginning – Aluth Avurudda. As the New Year sets in, families are busy getting ready for the rituals that follow. Household preparations are done in advance, even two or three weeks prior to the festival; homes are repainted, floors are polished and kitchens are cleaned.

All unwanted items are discarded, making the setting clean and tidy to mark a new beginning. The best is the preparation of sweetmeats and purchasing new clothes. The oil lamp is lit at the auspicious time. As the sun exits Meena, people take the final bath for the old year. As the punyakalaya or nonagathaya (inauspicious time) begins all business and work related activities end. People engage in spiritual activities by visiting temples.

Hindu families rise early at the dawn of the New Year and collect Maruthu neer, special water that contains herbal leaves and flowers such as lotus, pomegranate and a few others. This ritual is considered an act of purification and Maruthu neer is anointed at an auspicious time as recommended by the astrologers or priests in the kovils.

The spirit of the New Year sets in when everyone wears new clothes and wish family and friends Puthandu Valthukkal (Happy New Year) in Hindu homes. Later, families gather at a place, at the entrance to the house where a potful of milk is boiled.

As the first rays of the New Year begin to fall, watching the milk overflow from the rim brings boundless joy into one’s life. The milk is used to make Pongal - a type of sweetened rice made in Hindu homes during festivals.

The Pongal is made at a specific time when the sun moves from the Meena Rasi (Pisces) to Mesha Rasi (Aries).

The Hindus too scrub, clean and get rid of all old items. Houses are white-washed and cleaned as it is believed that the Goddess Lakshmi resides in a clean home and showers her blessings on the family to prosper.

Tying the traditional Maviliai Thoranam symbolises the onset of a festival in any Hindu house-hold, during these times. On the eve of the New Year, a garland of Mango leaves or the Mavilai Thoranam is hung just above the doorstep to ward off the evil eye while announcing that the festivities are about to begin.

Another attraction, is the Kolam which are designs drawn with rice flour at one’s doorstep or on the main entrance. Women of the same neighbourhood embark on a silent competition with one another to come up with the best design, as they draw these artful creations on New Year’s Eve.

Junior Observer wishes its readers a joyous and a prosperous New Year!

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