The Tamil New Year; also known as Puthandu or Varsha Pirapu in Tamil is a festival celebrated by Tamils worldwide. This festival is celebrated to signify the start of the new Tamil calendar year and is normally celebrated on the first day of the tamil month "Chittirai". The festival is significant to Tamils as it signifies a new beginning and is thought as a day where the future brings better tides. Why is this celebration so ubiquitously celebrated around the world by Tamils and what is it all about? Let us give you a slight introduction on the Tamil New Year and why it is celebrated.
For starters, did you know that the Tamil calendar has 12 months, similar to the Gregorian calendar and is generally celebrated on the 14th of April of the Gregorian calendar. As the Tamil calendar follows the moon phases, the new year falls on the day of the vernal equinox, when the day is exactly the same length as the night. This equinox falls on the 22nd of March on the Gregorian calendar but as the Tamil calendar follows the moon phases, this becomes the sidereal equinox which falls on the 14th of April every year.
If we were to take a look at the celebrations worldwide, Puthandu is celebrated in countries where there is a significant Tamil population. The major celebrations are held in Tamil Nadu, India while around the globe there are celebrations held in Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka , Mauritius and other countries where there are visible populations of Tamils. Each of these sub cultures have their own unique methods of bringing in the new year but they generally practice some common rituals which is interesting as the diaspora is quite well around the world yet retain similar practices.
Photo from instagram.com https://www.instagram.com/ohchineng/
Coming back to the homeland of Muthustore.com, our beloved Malaysia, the Tamils begin the preparations for this joyous occasion even before the day of the new year. One common practice that can be observed is that most Tamils will do a thorough house cleaning before the festival begins as this is thought to cleanse the house of any negative energies that may linger from the previous year. The cleaning also helps to keep the household healthy and free of disease. This cleaning is generally followed by the drawing of a kolam outside the house to further invite prosperity into the home while announcing the arrival of this auspicious event. Most homes also hang fresh mango leaves interlaced with young coconut leaves called thoranam to further enhance this effect as well as to signify that an auspicious event is taking place.
Photo by gopalsamy from FreeImages
The eve of Tamil New Year is a wonderful occasion where most families will gather to prepare for the coming day. Festive oil lamps, similar to the ones used in Deepavali celebrations are placed and lit around the house as these lights will guide good energies into the home while driving away darkness and negative energy. The gathering of the families brings the whole household unit together with amazing food varieties. For most families, this is a coveted time as all immediate members of the household from near and far gathers.
As Puthandu is an auspicious event, the day is started with a cleansing bath and a change into new attire. The elders of the home will then begin the preparation of the food, normally with the assistance of the younger members of the household. There are a number of dishes that are popular in Tamil festive events but Tamil New Year is host to several unique dishes that have specific meanings and symbolisms.
Food served on the Tamil New Year are mostly vegetarian cuisine. Tamils are encouraged to include the 6 core tastes as according to tradition in food. These 6 tastes are sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. The 6 tastes are described in ayurvedic scriptures as essential for maintaining a balance and a healthy body. Among the foods served to fit the 6 tastes are neem flower salad (also known as pachadi), mango salad, masala vadai (paruppu vadai), buttermilk and payasam. These core foods can be found in most puthandu lunch meals.
These meals are normally prepared and enjoyed together by the whole family using banana leaves as it's the tradition in Tamil culture. Now that you have learnt a little more about the traditions and the meaning behind the Tamil New Year, tell us what is most special for you this Tamil New Year. From the entire team at Muthustore.com , we would like to wish you “ Iniya Puthandu Nal Vaalthukal”