The month of Chittrai (April – May) embarks the time of festivities in Tamil Nadu. Tamil’s New Year Day ” Puthandu” is celebrated on April 13 or 14 every year (according to the Gregorian Calender). People greet each other “Puthandu Vazthukal” which means Happy New Year. This auspicious day is also popular as Varusha Pirappuv. As per the Hindu mthyical legends, Lord Brahma started creation of the universe.
Highlights of the Festival
New Year’s day is a gala time for all Tamils. The main focus is on the food eaten on the day. ‘Maanga Pachadi’ is the pulse of the festival. It is a dish made of raw mangoes, jaggery, neem flowers which tastes sweet, salt, sour and bitter. This entails different colors of life. It depicts that life has to face everything from success to defeat. At the time of New Year festivities, a grand Car Festival also takes place at Tiruvadamarudur near Kumbakonam. At some places, Chitthirai festival is also celebrated. It is said on this day, Goddess Meenakshi got married to Lord Sundareswarar.
In Tamil Nadu, people follow some strict rituals in a belief to ensure well-being and prosperity of their families. The most popular tradition is to view Kanni at dawn with a hope to bring good luck. People start the day by watching some auspicious items like gold and silver jewelery, betel leaves, nuts, fruits and vegetables, flowers, raw rice and coconuts. Following the rituals, Tamils take bath, wear fresh clothes and visit the temples to pray for success in life. After this, Panchangam (almanac) is read.
Many people get their houses painted to mark the renewal of life. Ladies adorn their houses with fresh mango leaves and Kolam (rangoli)designs. Sometimes, a decorated lamp kuthuvillakku is placed in the center of colorful Kolam to bring light to the house.
People in the advent of merrymaking and feasting exchange gifts with each other. Children are highly excited at the time of Puthandu as they receive small gifts or cash from their parents and relatives.