11 April, 2019
Last week on the 6th of April, many parts of India celebrated their New Year. And incredibly, a few other parts of India are set to celebrate it this weekend, on the 14th April. This unique diversity of India, with so many vastly different cultures co-existing peacefully, is what makes our country so special. So, let’s take a look at the various regions and their variety of New Year celebrations that is set to happen this weekend.
There are a few Bihu festivals in Assam, and this one set to happen on 14th, 15th, and 16th is called as the Bohag Bihu. These ushers in the Assamese New Year and the heralds the onset of the Spring season for them. The people of this region celebrate it with pomp and gaiety and a lot of merriment.
A folk dance to soul catching music by people dressed in their traditional attire is something common during this time. There is also a lot of feasting that happens with many special dishes cooked.
Tamil New Year or Puthandu
April 14th also happens to be the Tamil New Year or Puthandu as they call it, traditionally celebrated the day after the Vernal equinox. This happens to be the first day of the Tamil Hindu calendar. People wish each other, wear new clothes, visit temples and offer prayers for a good year ahead. The house is cleaned up, and a tray with all auspicious things is kept as an offer to god at home, and the family prays together.
The tray usually contains fruits, flowers, betel leaves, and areca nut, gold or silver jewelry, and money, as well as a mirror. This tray is arranged the day before, and on the break of dawn, the family sights the reflection of this tray in the mirror and believe that it brings them good luck and prosperity through the New Year. A sumptuous New Year feast is also made, and the family partakes of it together.
A Car festival is held in the temple city of Kumbakonam, and in Madurai, the Chitthirai festival is celebrated as the cosmic marriage of Lord Sundereswara with Goddess Meenakshi with a lot of pomp and gaiety. Just as in the case of Ugadi, special New Year Chutney is made with Neem leaves and jaggery, along with raw mango, chilies, etc.
Vishu – The Malayali New Year
Malayalis the world over celebrate their New Year on the 14th April and, other than Onam, this happens to be one of the biggest festivals of this state. A day before this day, they carefully arrange what is called a ‘Vishu Kani’ which means the ‘first sight’ on Vishu day. They use the yellow colored Konna flowers for this, which is usually abundant at this time of the year. Along with the bunch of flowers, they arrange many other auspicious items like fruits, money, gold or silver items, rice, yellow lemons, golden yellow cucumber, coconut, betel leaves and areca nut, a mirror, a lamp, holy books, and a photo or idol of Lord Vishnu or Krishna.
On the Vishu day, usually, the lady of the house lights the lamp and then walks each member of the house blindfolded to take the first auspicious sight, which will bring in prosperity through the year. People wake up as early as 3 am, take a bath, say their prayers, and then burst crackers to usher in the New Year. For lunch, a typical Vishu sadya is prepared, which is a vegetarian feast, with dishes like Vishu Kanji, Thoran Katta, raw mango pulissery, and many other special Kerala dishes.
Vishu Kodi (New clothes) is a must, and elders in the family also gift the younger ones with Vishu Kaineettam, which is nothing but money or gold or silver items, etc. as a special gift to celebrate the Vishu festival. Usually, kids look forward to the day, as they consider it auspicious to receive something from elders on this day.
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