Celebrating Sinhala and Tamil New Year with pride and unity | Sunday Observer

Celebrating Sinhala and Tamil New Year with pride and unity

11 April, 2021

Sri Lanka, enriched by its multi-ethnicity is a treasure trove of culture. One of the main cultural events celebrated within the nation is the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. Celebrated annually on April 13 and 14, this joyous occasion is a specimen of the cultural diversity in the country and the way in which it enriches the nation in every aspect.

Since ancient times, Sri Lanka has been an agricultural nation. Therefore, the Sri Lankan people of different ethnicities have paid homage to the main aspect of nature on which their livelihood depended; the Sun.

The Sinhala and Tamil New Year falls during this specific time of the year as, according to Eastern astrology, it is the time when the Sun moves from Pisces (commonly referred to as Meena Rashiya) to Aries (commonly referred to as Mesha Rashiya), marking the dawn of a New Year.

There are many different ways in which Sri Lankans pay homage and seek blessings for success in the New Year. The Aluth Sahal Mangalyaya is one of the main ways in which Sinhala Buddhist people do so.

During this tradition, farmers offer a portion of the first harvest they reap from the paddy field along with cooked traditional food such as Milk Rice or Kiri Bath to the Sri Maha Bodhi and seek blessings for the new year.

Sri Lankans of other religions and ethnicities too engage in such interesting traditions to seek blessings for themselves, their families and the nation for New Year.

Heralding Avurudu

The Koel also known as the Koha is regarded as the harbinger of the Avurudu season, as its cry, along with the blooming of the Erabadu flowers marks the beginning of this season in Sri Lanka. As the season begins, people of the Sinhala and Tamil communities prepare for the joyous occasion and to engage in the traditions and customs that come along with it.

The Sinhala and Tamil customs associated with this occasion, carried out together with the same objective and idea brings out the true beauty of Sri Lanka and what it is built on.

However, due to the pre-occupied nature and the one-track mind of today’s man, these customs which play a major role in making our country unique, are gradually being forgotten and ignored. It is a fact that with the advancement of science and the thought processes of humans, all traditions are not believed in or agreed to. It is true that one should always believe what one considers to be true and correct and not only believe for the sake of believing or because society dictates that one should believe in something.

However, shunning of one’s culture due to a misguided and incorrect ideology that is inculcated within oneself through ignorance or as a “trend”, is detrimental to oneself and the country as a whole and can unfortunately be witnessed in today’s society.

“Every man’s ability may be strengthened or increased by culture,” said John Abbot, Third Prime Minister of Canada

Cultural diversity

As said by the former Canadian Prime Minister, the ability of a person may be greatly enhanced by culture. Through individual enhancement, the enhancement of a nation’s society as a whole, is inevitable.

Hence, as Sri Lankans, we should focus on cherishing our rich cultural background, not at the expense of our personal beliefs but to truly understand and appreciate our roots and origin.

“A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people” - Mahatma Gandhi.

Sri Lankans are of different religious and cultural backgrounds. However, each and every Sri Lankan, irrespective of their religion, race, beliefs and background contributes to the uniqueness and the eminence of the country.

We pride ourselves on the fact that we are a nation with a deep and rich culture but continue to ignore the fact that the diversity that exists within Sri Lanka is the main reason as to why the country’s culture is so great.

The Sinhala and Tamil New Year is an occasion during which, two ethnicities come together and celebrate a common occurrence with their own traditions and cultures, along with the rest of the Sri Lankan society. Therefore, this Avurudu season, whether we greet each other in Sinhala as “Subha Aluth Avurudak Veva” or in Tamil as, “Iniya Siththirai Puththandu Nalvazhthukkal” let’s unite, and understand and respect the undeniable fact that the great culture of Sri Lanka is made up of and includes each and every Sri Lankan and their cultural ideologies, beliefs and traditions.