Happy New Year

The Sinhala and Tamil New year is celebrated in Sri Lanka on the 14th and 15th of April 2021

Naomi Booth :: Tuesday 13th April 2021 :: This Story

The Sinhala and Tamil New year is celebrated in Sri Lanka on the 14th and 15th of April 2021. It is celebrated by both the Sinhalese Buddhists and Tamil Hindus of Sri Lanka.

It celebrates the reaping of the harvest, cleaning the houses, visiting temples, giving food to the poor, visiting family, giving gifts and eating special New Year foods. We wish all our Ocean Stars communities in Sri Lanka and supporters worldwide a Happy New Year.

The Sinhala and Tamil New Year Customs and rituals

Picture: /files/latest-news/421/w288/no-1.jpg

The Sinhala and Tamil New Year or as we all call it Avurudu in Sinhala, has become an important national holiday for both Sinhala Buddhists and the Tamil Hindus of Sri Lanka. It is unique because it is not celebrated in any other country as a national festival.

According to the Sinhala calendar, Sri Lankans begin celebrating 'Aluth Avurudu' in Sinhala and 'Puththandu' in Tamil, in the month of Bak when the sun moves from the Meena Rashiya to the Mesha Rashiya. The name 'Bak' is derived from the Sanskrit word 'bhagya' meaning 'fortunate'. The month of Bak corresponds to April in the Gregorian calendar, which is commonly used in Sri Lanka as in other parts of the world.

Picture: /files/latest-news/421/w288/no-2.jpgThe Aluth Avurudu signifies the reaping of the harvest and social customs, especially of the farming community. After the Maha harvest, the farmers celebrate the occasion by giving thanks. And these customs and rituals portray the beliefs and thoughts of these people whose life is centred around agriculture.

Before Avurudu it is customary for every housewife to give a new look to her old house. In villages, the floor, if not cemented, is given a fresh application of cow dung mixed with earth. Preparation of sweetmeats, such as kevum, kokis, atirasa, aggala, aluva and asmi takes place at least three days before the new year.

There is also an auspicious time for the women folk to commence work at their respective homes. Facing the specified direction, they light the hearth to prepare the traditional kiribath. Prior to this, milk is boiled in a new earthen pot and allowed to boil over, symbolising prosperity. The hath maluwa with seven different flavours which is considered a delicacy, is a speciality dish prepared during Avurudu. Other festive sweetmeats are generally made in advance to serve visitors and send to neighbours as a sign of goodwill.

Picture: /files/latest-news/421/w288/img-3083.jpgThe Hindus also celebrate the New Year, commonly known as 'Puththandu', by observing the traditions and rituals practised by ancestors over the years. However, they are slightly different to those of the Sinhalese.

Homes are cleaned and made ready prior to the event. On the day of the Avurudu, during the auspicious time, Maruthu Neer - clean water boiled with various herbs, selected flowers and leaves, milk, saffron and other ingredients are made by the priests in temples. The Maruthu Neer is then applied on the heads of all family members prior to bathing. New clothes are recommended according to the colours mentioned in the almanac. A sweet rice is made if possible, with new raw red rice, jaggery, cashew nuts, ghee and plums.

The area in front of the house is cleaned and sprinkled with saffron water, and cowdung. A decorative design 'Kolam' is done with raw white rice flour. The hearth is made a little distance away facing the East, and a new pot is used to cook the 'Pongal'. Lamps are lit by the housewife, and the head of the household arranges the Mangala Kumbam.

A visit to the temple is a must. Customarily alms should be offered to the poor. During the auspicious time, the sweet rice is partaken by the family. Later the head of the family gives money, betel leaves, paddy and flowers - ``Kai Vishesham'' to the family members and wishes them good luck.

Picture: /files/latest-news/421/w288/9b5ddbf9-ef5e-429c-93e8-ee8f124fccec.jpg Picture: /files/latest-news/421/w288/196d05c6-ef8e-45eb-9570-4a3d27ef0d20.jpg