Sinhala and Tamil New Year's Day in Sri Lanka
Sinhala and Tamil New Year's Day, also known as Aluth Avurudda in Sinhala and Puthandu in Tamil, is a significant cultural event in Sri Lanka. It marks the beginning of the new year for both the Sinhalese and Tamil communities living in the country. The date of the celebration usually falls on the 13th or 14th of April, depending on the sighting of the new moon and the solar cycle.
The Sinhala and Tamil New Year's Day in Sri Lanka has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. It is believed that the celebration of the new year began with the arrival of the Aryans to the island around 543 BCE. The new year is closely linked to the agricultural cycle and the movement of the sun from the Meena Rashiya (House of Pisces) to the Mesha Rashiya (House of Aries) in the Zodiac. The event is deeply rooted in the island's ancient agricultural society and is mainly celebrated to give thanks for the bountiful harvest and to welcome a prosperous new year.
National customs for Sinhala and Tamil New Year's Day in Sri Lanka
There are several national customs associated with Sinhala and Tamil New Year's Day in Sri Lanka. Preparations for the event typically begin several days before the actual day. Houses are cleaned, and new clothes are bought for the entire family. Traditional sweetmeats such as Kavum, Kokis, and Athirasa are prepared in advance and shared among family and friends.
On the day of the new year, people wake up early, take a ritual bath, and visit the nearest temple to seek blessings for the year ahead. The lighting of the hearth and the preparation of the first meal of the new year are also essential customs. The time to light the hearth and cook the first meal is determined by astrologers and is followed by the entire nation.
An important custom is the exchange of gifts, especially between family members and close friends. Children often receive money from their elders, known as "Kiri Ahara" in Sinhala, symbolizing the sharing of wealth and blessings. Traditional games and activities such as pillow fights, tug of war, and climbing the greasy pole (Kamba Adeema) are organized in villages and towns across the country.
Local customs for Sinhala and Tamil New Year's Day in Sri Lanka
While the celebration of Sinhala and Tamil New Year's Day in Sri Lanka has many national customs, there are also local variations and practices. In some areas, people organize street dramas and performances highlighting stories from Sri Lankan folklore and history. The Tamil community in the north and east of Sri Lanka also has unique customs such as the reading of the Panchangam (the Tamil almanac) by a respected elder, which forecasts the year ahead for the community.
Sinhala and Tamil New Year's Day is an essential cultural event in Sri Lanka that brings together the diverse communities of the island to celebrate the beginning of a new year. With a long history and rich customs, the event showcases the unity and harmony that exists between the Sinhalese and Tamil people living in Sri Lanka. The celebration of this day serves as a reminder of the island's agricultural roots and the importance of sharing and togetherness.