Sri Lankan Hindu & Buddhist New Year


In 2018, the Hindu Buddhist New Year falls on April 14 on a specific auspicious time.  The auspicious time differes between Hindus and Buddhists based on the almanac.  The most important aspect of the New Year is making the sweet pongal by Hindus and Kiri Bath by Buddhists along with other sweets and snacks that are traditional to Hindus and Buddhists.

Sri Lankan New Year which is called “Chithirai Puthandu” or “Puthuvarusham” in Tamil and “Aluth Avurude” in Sinhala is celebrated throughout Sri Lanka by the Tamil Hindus and Sinhala Buddhists.  It is a national holiday in Sri Lanka that normally falls on the 14th of April.

According to Tamil calendar, April 14th (Western Calendar) is the 1st of April which is the first day of the year.  On the New Years day people greet each other by saying “Puthandu Vaalthukkal” and people visit friends and family members during auspicious times.  Neighbors and relatives also exchange sweets, sweet milk rice and other snacks that are made for the New Year.

How Hindus celebrate New Year:

Prior to New Year, homes are cleaned and made ready for the New Year.  Sweets and snacks are made (such as murukku, chippi, payatram paniyaram, cheedai, bunthi etc.) On the day of New Year, during auspicious time by priests all family members apply Maruthu Neer on their heads prior to bathing.  Maruthu Neer is a water that has selected herbs, flowers, leaves, saffron and other ingredients made by priests from Hindu Temples.  After bathing new clothes are worn.  There are traditions color of new clothes are recommended based on the almanac.  The area in the front of the house is cleaned and sprinkled with saffron water (turmeric mixed with water).  A fire hearth is made facing East and by using a new clay pot (now a days people use aluminum, stainless steel etc.) “Pongal” is made which is a milk rice that is mixed with jaggery, raisins, cardamom, and ghee.  Other important aspects to consider are starting a new event such as ploughing the field, opening the store etc during an auspicious time.  Another event that is to be mentioned is “Kai Vishesham” where family members give small amount of money to each other and relatives.  Money is placed on a beetle leaf and given.

How Buddhist celebrate New Year

Homes are cleaned prior to the New Years day and sweets like Kavum, Kokis, Aggala, Aluva and Asmi are made.  It is customary to take a herbal bath for the passing year.  Milk rice is made (called kiri bath in Sinhala) with other treats (not known to me).  Family members sit together and eat the first meal during an auspicious time.  New Year also involves some traditional games such as Olinda keliya, eluvan keliya etc and beating of raban (a type of drum) by women.

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