Our own Avurudu | Sunday Observer

Our own Avurudu

11 April, 2021

The Sinhala and Hindu Aluth Avurudda - New Year will fall shortly. The auspicious times for the main rituals begin with the Nonagathaya on Tuesday at 8.09pm. The New Year will fall along with the dawn on Wednesday (April 14), continue via the lighting of the hearth, having meals and Ganu Denu, anointing oil and finally setting off for work (profession) the next Monday (April 19). The auspicious color codes for this year are light green, blue and white according to the day that the auspicious time for each ritual has fallen on to.

Changes in 2021

Unlike last year, even amid the risk of the country’s health sector’s warning to be cautious against the new wave of Corona, our people seem to be getting ready to welcome this year’s Avurudu with their usual excitement, energy and interest.

The clothes shops, supermarkets, village fairs in the city, suburbs and countryside could be seen filled with crowds buying new clothes, gifts, food items and other necessities for their households to embrace the New Year.

Since ancient times, preparing milk rice and sweetmeats such as konda kavum, mung kavum, athirasa, kokis, aluwa and aasmi, then cleaning and white washing the houses, business places and, clad in new attire according to the auspicious color, getting together as a family, playing Avurudu games and having fun and relaxing from the hustle and bustle of the usual routine are a few refreshing happenings that take place during the season.

Simple yet impressive and heartwarming rituals such as paying gratitude to parents, teachers and elders by worshiping them offering a sheaf of beatle leaves are among the major significant role played by celebrators.

Special month

Hence the Avurudu celebrated in the month of Bak (April) in Sri Lanka consists with full of unique sense of spirit, generosity and harmony.

The environment also becomes vibrant and delightful with trees bearing fruits and plants blooming with flowers during this season. Generally, this was the time our ancestors used to reap and store the harvest of the rice paddy. Hence they were relaxed and had time to celebrate the festival.

Along with this the ritual of `Nawa Sahal Mangallaya’ (offering the new harvest to the Buddha and the gods) was held. However, though with white collar jobs, modern ages and busy lives we have still managed to follow rituals and celebrate Avurudu till date even with few modifications that occurred along with the changing of the society and life style.

White raw rice, coconut milk, coconut oil, mung eta (green gram) and sugar are the main ingredients used in preparing the milk rice and sweetmeats– the most essential `Avurudu’ food items. Though knowing and facing the health issues and high prices of these, (especially that has propped up a few days back in the country), people do not seem much bothered.

They may be too busy getting ready for the festival or have some assurance from the Government that they would be supplied with all what they need clean and clear without a scarcity.

However, people can be seen buying and storing things in advance. The businesses which went down last year seemed thriving again, just as it was during the earlier `Avurudu’ seasons.

The Pamunuwa Street, the famous area for clothing at Maharagama could be seen `illuminated’ with garments and materials in many vibrant colours and styles hanging in every nook and corner and been sold for affordable prices for wholesale and retail.

Apart from that all the shopping malls and market places in the country are also filled with crowds so that one who sees them would wonder whether people have to spend and store such a lot in such a hurry.

Busiest city

The commoners, the middle class and the affluence, no matter which income level they belong to, everybody seems wanting to buy something.

The happy faces of the whole family moving together in groups show not a single sign of tiredness though they walk for quite long hours to and fro among the crowd and in the business spots, not much bothered about the plague.

Ice cream parlors and restaurants are also filled with people swarmed in looking for refreshment after a hectic day of shopping.

Many extra buses and trains are scheduled to run to the remote areas during Avurudu carrying the people whose souls are tied in the villages though they work in Colombo and elsewhere.

We hope the railway workers are also getting busy with `Avurudu’ celebration with their families and have abandoned the idea of their strikes at least during this season.

The Avurudu means many happenings are taking place in the Sinhala and Tamil communities in the country. During the Nonagathaya, people refrain from work and attend religious work and play indoor games mainly with family members.

At the auspicious time they cook milk rice, lay the Avurudu dining table with sweetmeats prepared earlier, bananas and betel leaves. The mother and the grandmother of the family play the major role in cooking and preparing the meals. At the auspicious time to consume meals, it is the eldest male member of the family either father or the grandfather that lights the oil lamp for the Buddha statue and offers the first portion of milk rice. (The Hindus offer poojas to their gods and goddesses).

He then feeds a mouthful of milk rice to every member of the family. The Ganu Denu (exchanging money) during the auspicious period for the first time in the New Year expecting prosperity and wealth follows next.

The youngsters offer a sheaf of betel leaf and worship elders and get the blessing from them. They exchange gifts and sit together and have the first meal of the year.

Anointing oil on the head (Hisa thel gema) is done by a healthy adult after about two days. This symbolises getting the blessings for good health.

Visiting parents and other family members who live elsewhere, teachers, adults, relatives, friends and neighbors and other people including the chief incumbent of the temples would also take place during the season.

Apart from that our community never forgets to share Avurudu with neighbouring non-celebrators such as Burghers and Muslims as well. They are invited for a meal or sent plates of Avurudu food gracefully.

By lighting fireworks including crackers, it is expected to have fun and also to drive away evil. Playing `Avurudu Rabana’ (the big round drum which is played by many sitting around it) to a beautiful tune has been very famous among villagers. Holding the Avurudu Kreeda Ulela (New Year Sports Festival) in which the games especially played for the season is still a popular event both in the city and village.

All these rituals and events mark and symbolise the family togetherness, developing harmonious ties among community members, expecting blessing, prosperity and fortune for everybody.

Childhood happiness

When we were children, we were waiting for Avurudu season to enjoy.

Due to the health risk that has come up with present plague, not only our children but also all the community members and the whole society are advised to maintain distance. Hence we abide to follow certain restrictions for our own safety and our families’ protection.

In addition while you are spending to celebrate Avurudu, just think a bit about your neighbour, relative or someone known to you who would be having a low income or who has lost his/her job due to the present situation.

Spare a little amount from your share with them too. The Government has also introduced a Sahana Malla - a relieving pack with essential dry rations worth Rs. 1,000 for the season.

Think twice before you pull your purse to spend on clothes or some other `not really necessary item’. Use that money to spend on the necessary things. If possible, take a pack of some edible dry rations instead of a packet of sweets when you do your Avurudu visiting. It is much useful and might be most welcoming by your hosts of nowadays.