Mid- April brings in the traditional Hindu New Year but in today's fast paced world do people take the time to celebrate it

Homes are cleaned and decorated, special sweets are prepared, new clothes are bought; all in the anticipation of celebration. Mid-April marks an important period for many communities and states in India. It is the traditional New Year and celebrated as Pooram Vishu in Kerala, Rongali Bihu in Assam, Pohela Boishakh in Bengal and Vaisakhi in Punjab. But, in today's world, for many professionals and youngsters this day is no different from the rest. Work, school and college get in the way. And with people moving to different cities and states for work and studies, the significance of the day gets diluted in many ways.

“For someone like me who lives and works outside of Kerala, Vishu celebrations are low-key,” says Vaishnavi Murali who works for a PR firm. “The elaborate lunch and visiting relatives is foregone, though the morning rituals are still conducted before family members go their separate ways for the day.”

For Gayathri S. who works for an MNC in the city the best parts of Vishu are still followed. “New clothes are bought and worn and we get money from our elders on Vishu,” says Gayathri. “So while I might have to work on Vishu, I still get to enjoy these things.”

For the Sikhs this day along with marking the beginning of the New Year it is also the origin of the Sikh order of the Khalsa. Manpreet Kaur who works as ground staff for an airline visits the Gurudwara on this auspicious day. “We also meet friends and family members, dress up in elaborate outfits and eat lots of good food,” says Manpreet. “It's one giant party.”

Pohela Boishakh is celebrated by the Bengalis in the city. It is an opportunity for the close knit Bengali communities to gather, sing, dance and make merry. But for Debabrata Das who works in the media the celebrations are much simpler. “I take sweets to work for my colleagues and wear new clothes,” says Debabrata. “But, that's the extent of my New Year celebrations, there just isn't enough time or inclination to do anything more.”

There are organisations such as Bangiya Sanskritk Sangha that arrange functions to celebrate the day making it easier for people to join in the festivities. Atin Chauduri, a member of Batayan, says, “Cultural programmes followed by a dinner are part of the celebration,” he adds. “But, we make sure the function takes place in the evening so that people are more relaxed and free to attend.”

However, some go the esxtent to celebrate the New Year. “I work for an MNC that follows the American holiday system. But for Bengali New Year, I bunk work,” says Aparna Roy. “From visiting the temple in the morning, to helping my mother decorate the house and make sweets; I never miss the celebrations and its well worth missing a day of work.”

Shiv Menon agrees with these sentiments, “I think now more than ever we should celebrate the New Year and keep these traditions kept alive,” says the software engineer. “These celebrations far from being religious are more about celebrating life and new beginnings.”

Keywords: New yearfestivals