We really enjoy getting involved with the culture of Sri Lanka, and one of these was Tamil New Year Celebrations. This was my first time celebrating Sinhala and Tamil New Year, which is an annual celebration. Shams on the other has celebrated this from birth.
Tamil New Year Celebrations are based on an auspicious times given by astrologers and varies yearly.
The new year starts when the sun moves from the house of Pisces, (Meena Rasi) to the house of Aries (Mesha Rasi), marking the beginning of Puthandu. Tamil New Year is an annual celebration on the 14th April. Everyone enjoys the festivities and begins the new year on a joyous and positive note.
Prior to Tamil New Year Celebrations:
Families will scrub and clean the house, and tidy up. As it’s believed that the goddess Lakshmi will only visit a clean house, and shower her blessings of prosperity on the families.
On the eve of the new year, the garland of mango leaves or ” Maavilai Thoranam ” is hung on the front doorstep to ward off any evil eye.
” Kolam” which are designs drawn with rice flower can also be found on the doorstep, which is another amazing colourful attraction.
Morning of the new year:
At dawn on new years day, families go out to collect ” maruthu neer” which is a special water that contains a mix of herbal leaves and flowers, such as, lotus, pomegranate and a few others. This is a ritual considered to be an act of purification, which is anointed at an auspicious time recommended by astrologers or priests in the Kovils.
The spirit of the new year (the auspicious time) is when families and friends wear new clothes and wish Puthandu Valthukkal (happy new year).Families will normally gather at a specific place (ideally at the entrance of the house) where a pot full of milk is boiled.
As the new year begins, watching the milk overflow is a sight meant to bring boundless joy and bounty. The milk is used to make pongal (a type of sweetened rice) made in Hindu houses at times of festivals.
A pooja is a ceremony conducted to thank the gods for the previous year and to seek blessings for the new year ahead. Normally the lady of the house sets up the kumbam (silver pot with coconut on top covered with mango leaves on the side), in the prayer room. The kumbam along with other fruits and sweets are laid in front of the god as offering. Once the ceremonies are completed at home, families visit the temple during the punya kaalam (specific time of day, to visit the temple and being involved in spiritual activities).
This custom is a ceremony where the elders offer small amounts of money to the younger members of the family, thereby commencing the first financial transaction of the new year. The “kai visesham” money is to bring luck to the younger members and should not be spent until the next year. This custom must be conducted at a special time.
At the end of the ceremonies, various games like porthenkai (a game with coconuts), uriyadi (pot breaking) are played between neighboring communities. The ladies can sometimes be seen dancing ” kolattam and kummi ” while singing songs about the new year. These activities are a way of bringing kingship among the neighbors and others from the locality.
We certainly noticed how similar the celebrations are to the Sinhala New Year Celebrations, but with their own religious differences.
Should you wish to experience Tamil New Year, or planning a trip to Sri Lanka, then please contact us.
Are you looking to visit Sri Lanka, then check out our 14 day itinerary to Sri Lanka, covering the beaches in the south coast of Sri Lanka, the hill country for the tea regions, and the capitol of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan’s celebrates poya (full moon), with a different celebration each month, to learn more, check out our post on Festivals Celebrated in Sri Lanka.
After the tiring celebrations of Tamil New year, you may want to sit back and relax, and what perfect way but to visit a secret beach in Mirissa, with the most beautiful sunset. What are you waiting for!
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Have you experienced Tamil New Year? How did you feel during the celebrations? Would you like to experience Tamil New Year and why? We would love to hear from you, by leaving a comment below.
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