New year in April

Baisakhi, Vishu, Puthandu, Bihu... call it what you will — New Year is reason enough for celebrations...

April 12, 2018 05:00 pm | Updated 05:00 pm IST

REVELRY: Puthandu. Photo: N. Rajesh

REVELRY: Puthandu. Photo: N. Rajesh

New Year doesn’t necessarily have to fall on January 1. Sometimes it happens mid-April

Tamil Nadu: Puthandu

Tamil Puthandu, also known as Puthuvarusham or Tamil New Year, is the first day of the year in the Tamil calendar. The date is set with the solar cycle of the Hindu calendar, as the first day of the Tamil month Chithirai , and thus, almost always falls on or around April 14. On this day, Tamil people greet each other by saying Puttāṇṭu vāḻttukkaḷ or Iṉiya puttāṇṭu nalvāḻttukkaḷ, the Tamil equivalent to Happy New Year. In some parts of southern Tamil Nadu, the festival is called Chittirai Vishu . On the eve of Puthandu , a tray is arranged with mango, banana, jackfruit, betel leaves, arecanut, jewellery, money, flowers and a mirror, in a fashion similar to Kerala’s ceremonial tray at Vishu. The entrances of homes are decorated elaborately with rangoli designs in coloured rice powder — kolams . A game called por-thenkai or coconut wars, is played by the youth in villages through north and east Tamil Nadu, while cart races are also held. Sri Lankan Tamils celebrate with the first financial transaction known as the Kai-vishesham where youngsters pay their respects to elders, who in turn bless them and give them money.

Kerala: Vishu

Vishu is the new year celebrated in Kerala. The festival follows the solar cycle as the first day of the Medam month and so falls in the middle of April, usually around April 14.

In Kerala, people wake up to the sight of Vishu kani — Indian laburnum, money, silver, and rice arranged on a tray. Children burst fire crackers, wear new clothes ( puthukodi ) and look forward to vishukkaineetam (money given to them by the elders). The lunch or sadhya consists of a mix of salty, sweet, sour, and bitter dishes.

Some special dishes like the Vishu kanji , thoran, and Vishu katta are also an important part of the menu. The kanji is made of rice, coconut milk, and spices. Vishu katta is a delicacy prepared from freshly harvested rice powder and coconut milk served with jaggery. Other important Vishu delicacies are veppampoorasam, a neem preparation, and mampazhappulissery, a sour mango soup.

Punjab: Baisakhi

Baisakhi is celebrated on April 14, according to the Nanakshahi calendar and the Mool Nanakshahi calendar. It marks the solar new year and the birth of the Khalsa way of living. The festival commemorates the formation of the Khalsa panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh guru, in 1699.

Also heralded as the harvest festival, Baisakhi is celebrated with music and dance across homes, schools, and gurudwaras. The festivities include public parades with traditional songs and folk dances in vibrant and traditional attire. Aawat pauni is yet another tradition associated with harvesting, where people get together to harvest wheat. At the end of the day, people sing dohay (folk poetry) to the tunes of the drum.

The Thai New Year falls on April 13, but the holiday period includes April 14 and 15 as well . Visiting local temples and offering food to the Buddhist monks is common. Apart from these rituals, the holiday is known for its water festival. Streets are closed to traffic, and are used as platforms for water fights.

Rongali Bihu or Bohag Bihu, the Assamese New Year, is celebrated on April 14 or 15. It is a time for merriment, and feasting goes on for seven days. The farmers prepare the fields for cultivation of paddy, while the women make pitha, larus (traditional food made of rice and coconut) and jolpan.

Maghe Sankranti, the Odia new year, is celebrated on April 14 in Odisha. It is also called Vishuva Sankranti or Pana Sankranti

In Western parts of Karnataka where Tulu is spoken, the new year is celebrated on April 14 or 15, although in other parts, it is commonly celebrated on Gudi Padwa , the Maharashtrian New Year. In Kodagu, Karnataka however, both Ugadi (corresponding to Gudi Padwa in March) and Bisu (similar to Vishu around April 14 or 15), are observed.

Top News Today


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.