The Tamil New Year called Varusha Pirappu or Thamil Puthandu is on Friday April 13, 2012. The New Year means hope, new beginning, new life, new possibilities and joy & happiness. Some Hindus believe that according to Hindu Scriptures, the 2012 Hindu New Year is the beginning of the Golden age, and the huge transition of energy in 2012 will bring joy and prosperity to all.
Hindus around the world celebrate Hindu New Year on different dates and months based on different factors. For Tamil Hindus around the world, the Tamil New Year is either on the 13th or 14th of April, and it is called Chitterai Varusha Pirappu. Chitterai is the first month of Tamil solar calendar.
Although this is called Tamil New Year, this is in fact Tamil Hindu New Year, because Tamil Christians and Tamil Muslims do not celebrate this as New Year. In Sri Lanka this day is called Sinhala & Tamil New Year; but, among Sinhalese there are Christians who do not celebrate this New Year. Hence, it should be called Buddhist & Hindu New Year. Technically Buddhists do not have a New Year, but due to Hindu influence on Buddhism in Sri Lanka they too celebrate Hindu New Year as Sinhala and Tamil New Year.
During this period of Tamil New Year Assamese, Bengalis, Malayalees, Meiteis (people of Manipuri), Nepalis, Oriyas (people of Orissa) also celebrate their New Year. See details below:
• Assamese New Year, Rongah Bihu or Bohag Bihu, is celebrated on 14–15 April in the Indian State of Assam;
• Bengali New Year, Pohela Boishakh or Bangla Nôbobôrsho, is celebrated on the 1st of Boishakh which is between 14–15 April in Bangladesh and in the Indian state of West Bengal;
• Kerala New Year, Vishu is celebrated by Hindu Malayalees on April 14 in the South Indian state of Kerala;
• Manipuri New Year, Cheirouba, is celebrated on 14 April in the Indian State of Manipuri;
• Nepali New Year is celebrated on the 1st of Baisakh – 12–15 April in Nepal;
• Oriya New Year, Vishuva Sankranti, is celebrated on 14 April in the Indian state of Orissa.
Although the traditional Tamil New Year was changed to Thai Pongal (Jan 14) by the Tamil Nadu Government in 2008 at the insistence of Tamil nationalists, it met with strong resistance from the majority of Tamil Hindus who challenged it in court. It was reverted to the traditional Tamil New Year (April 13 /14) in 2011.
Tamil New Year is a significant day for Tamil Hindus with religious values, and is celebrated accordingly with religious rituals, including visiting Hindu Temples. Though there may be slight variations in the customs and traditions of Tamil New Year celebrations from country to country, region to region and from community to community, it is generally the same in terms of Tamil Hindu values. Accordingly, Tamil New Year is jam packed with strong Hindu beliefs and traditions.
Some Tamil Hindu Beliefs and Traditions:
It is believed viewing auspicious things (Kanni) on this day will bring prosperity and good fortune throughout the year. The same is practiced by Malayalees and it is called Vishu Kani.
After viewing Kanni, Tamil Hindus take the ritual bath. The Tamil Hindus in Sri Lanka call it Maruthu Neer Bath, Maruthu Neer is available in all the Hindu temples a day before Tamil New Year. (Sinhalese Buddhists also take the ritual bath with herbal mixture called Nanu).
After the ritual bath, Kolam (artwork on the floor with flour and colour) is drawn at the entrance of the house. It is believed Kolam at the entrance of the house brings good fortune to the household. The entrance is also decorated with mango leaves (Mavillai).
The family join together in the Puja Room to offer prayers to Gods and Goddesses, asking for divine blessings. They start their prayers by lighting Kuthu Villaku (traditional lamp), placed beside Nirai Kudam (brass bowl with water and decorated with coconut, mango leaves etc.) and it is a symbol of fullness and prosperity.
Once the prayers at home are completed all go to Hindu Temples of their choice to pray and receive blessings for a prosperous new year. They also listen to Tamil Panchangam read in the temple, which gives predictions for the coming year based on planetary positions.
Presenting money to family members, servants, etc., at an auspicious time, as a token of good fortune is part of Tamil Hindu New Year traditions, and it is known as “Kai Vishesham.” A similar ritual is practised by Malayalees on Vishu – it is called Kai Neetam or Vishukkaineetam.
Having Lunch and/or Dinner as a family, and visiting or welcoming relatives and friends on the Tamil New Year day is part of the Tamil New Year tradition.
Tamil New Year is an auspicious day of hope and happiness for Tamil Hindus in Tamil Nadu, India, as well as other parts of India, and across the world including Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, Canada, USA, UK and Australia.