Sri Lankan Sinhala & Tamil New Year
In the United States, the New Year is celebrated on January 1 of every year. While technically, December 31 is when the big celebrations occur and January 1 is when everyone takes the day off. However, the Sinhala New Year is far different.
Instead of celebrating the New Year on January 1, this is a celebration that occurs on April 13 and 14th of every year. The timing of the New Year is so general because unlike typical New Years Celebrations, this New Year celebration begins when the sun changes positions from Meena Rashiya to Mesha Rashiya.
Sinhala New Year is celebrated in Sri Lanka and is marked by a number of traditions. Some traditions are carried on specifically by women, such as the playing of the rabana, which are drums. This signals the start of the New Years rituals.
Children often offer Betel to their parents and elders as a sign of love and gratitude. In return, elders and parent pass on blessing to the children offering them Betel.
Baths are also taken on the last day of the year. Before these ceremonial baths are taken, people apply a herbal mixture known as Nanu to their bodies and especially their heads. This herb is thought to help cleanse both the physical and spirtual body.
There are many Sinhala New Year celebrations. For one, your house gets washed inside and out. This is symbolic of getting rid of the old and welcoming the new.
The first full day of the New Year begins with the ceremonial lighting of the hearth. People attend the lighting wearing new clothes and it is marked by the exchanging of gifts as well. This day, known as Aluth Avurudhu, is considered a good time to enter into business agreements and arrange marriages.
Games are also popular during this celebration. Children like to play Guddu, a game resembling cricket. Others like to play various card games. In addition, This is a time where people are encouraged to visit friends and families houses.
Lastly, what celebration would be complete without food. Popular food items are sweets like mung kavum, uduvel, konda kavum and traditional dish known as kiri bhaat or milk rice made from new crops.
To mark the end of the Sinhala New Year, is a ceremony involving elders and youth. In this ceremony, elders anoint the youth with herbal oil.