Tamil New Year is also known as Puthuvarusham and Puthandu. This is the very first day in the Tamil calendar and therefore is celebrated nothing less than a festival. The festival date is set with the Hindu calendar’s solar cycle. Every year, it falls on 14 April or some nearby date. In the Hindu community, the same day is celebrated as the traditional new year. The same day is known by different names in different places. For example, it is called Vishu in Kerala and Baisakhi in central and northern India.
The Tamil New Year is celebrated with great joy with people greeting one another with "Puthāaṇdu vāazhthugal!" or "Iṉiya puthaandu nalvāazhthugal!". It translates to ‘Happy New Year’. The day is mainly seen as family time. People clean their houses, prepare a tray with flowers, fruits, and other auspicious items. They also visit local temples and light up their family Puja altars. This is also the day to wear new clothes and seek blessings from elders. People also cook a complete vegetarian feast on this day.
Tray Rituals. On the eve of the Tamil New Year, a special tray is arranged with betel leaves, flowers, fruits, coins/money, gold/silver jewellery, and a mirror. People make this tray as their first sight on waking up on the new year day as it is considered very auspicious.
Special Rituals. People start their day by taking a sacred bath and then praying for a fruitful year ahead. A lot of things which are believed to be auspicious are collected and then offered to God.
Home Decorations. People participate in home decorations with great enthusiasm. Home entrances are specially ornated with flowers and coloured rice powder. People also make Rangoli designs outside their homes, which in this part of the country are known as Kolams.
Car Festival. The Tamil New Year also sees lots of celebrations at prominent temples in Tamil Nadu. On the new year day, a big Car Festival is held near Kumbakonam at Tiruvidaimarudur. A few festivals are also held at Kanchipuram, Tiruchirapalli, and some other places.
A Special Feast. Later in the day, families get together to have a hearty feast. Mangai-pachadi is a special dish that is prepared from a number of ingredients and flavours. It is made from astringent mustard, sour raw mango, red chilies, bitter neem, and sweet jaggery. This festive dish is ritually tasted by the family members.
This dish also has a very symbolic meaning. Since it is made from multiple flavours - sour, bitter sweet etc, it sends out a message that one should expect similar flavours in the coming year ahead. It also signifies that experiences are ephemeral & transitory and no event is wholly bitter or sweet. It teaches us to make the most out of our experiences.
Games. The Tamil New Year is also marked with fun games played between children and youth. Coconut wars or 'por-thenkai' is played in multiple villages. It is specially prominent in north Tamil Nadu. Cart races are also held at some places.
Tamil New Year is celebrated in the entire state of Tamil Nadu; hence people can visit any city of the state to enjoy the vibe of festivity. Chennai is the state capital and is easy to access by all mediums of transport. It is well-connected by the other cities of the country by road, rail and air.
14 April 2020
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