The month of Chitterai usher the New Year in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Sri Lanka. It is also celebrated by the Tamil population residing in the countries of Malaysia, Singapore, Reunion Island, Mauritius etc. The Tamil New Year is celebrated during mid-April and coincides with the New Year celebration in the other parts of the country namely Punjab, Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Assam, and West Bengal. It is also the harvest festival of this area since it announces the onset of the seeding season.
According to the calendar followed by the Tamils of India and Sri Lanka the New Year is observed during vernal equinox or Nirayanam. In some parts of southern Tamil Nadu and the places close to Kerala the New Year is also celebrated as Vishu. It is believed to be the day when Lord Brahma created the universe for his followers and hence, is very auspicious to commence new things.
Controversy regarding the date of Puthandu
There is however some controversies associated with the date of Tamil New Year. Some of the scholars of Tamil history and culture are of the opinion that Thai Pongal should be celebrated as Tamil New Year when the crops mature. But still most Tamilians believe that Thai Pongal is celebrated on “Kari Nal” which is not an auspicious day to start any new venture. So, they have continued to celebrate the New Year in mid-April.
The celebration of the festival
Puthandu or Tamil New Year has great cultural and religious significances in the lives of the people of the state and is celebrated with great fervor. Tamilians follow some strict rituals to ensure well being for the rest of the year.
On the day, people take the ritual oil bath known as 'maruthu-neer' and wear new clothes. They will then visit the temples to offer prayers to the deities. Seeing auspicious things in the morning of Puthandu is considered to bring good luck and prosperity for the rest of the year. For that, auspicious items like gold and silver jewelry, betel leaves, areca, fruits and vegetables, flowers, rice grains and coconuts are arranged at the puja room on the night before the event. In the morning of Puthandu the family members walk to the puja room to see it as the first thing of the day.
Large number of devotees gathers at Meenakshi Temple in the temple city of Madurai and special prayers are offered to the Goddess. It is believed that the goddess got married to Lord Sundareswarar on the day of Puthandu.
On this day the Tamil households are cleaned and decorated with kolam (rangoli). The young seek blessings from their elders and in return receive money as gifts. The special dish of 'Maanga Pachadi' is prepared with raw mangoes, jaggery, and neem flowers representing the sour, sweet and bitter tastes of life. Listening to the ‘Panchangam’ or the yearly forecast is an important event of the day.
The day is marked by general exuberance. People meet and greet each other and wish for a prosperous new year. In many places Chitthirai festivals are organized. A grand car show is organized at Tiruvadamarudur near Kumbakonam. Similar such fairs also take place in Tiruchirapalli, Kanchipuram and several other parts of the state.
Since Puthandu announces the beginning of the harvest season in the area the first tilling of the land is also done in a function of 'arpudu'. The cattle and farming instruments are worshipped before the farmer take them to the field.
Tamil New Year Messages/SMS
This is a time of new beginnings and also to celebrate life – Puthandu Vazhtukal
Let this Puthandu bring peace and affluence in the lives of all your family members.
May this Puthandu be a grand one for all of us.