By Katie May
Sri Lanka, a land adorned with cultural richness and diversity, beckons us to immerse ourselves in the vibrant celebration of Sinhala and Tamil New Year. This joyous occasion unites communities across the island, transcending language and ethnicity, as people come together to usher in a new year with a sense of unity, harmony, and renewed hope. Let us embark on a captivating journey, exploring the enchanting customs and traditions that make this festival a remarkable testament to the cultural tapestry of Sri Lanka.
Sinhala and Tamil New Year festival
What is the Sinhala and Tamil New Year?
The Sinhala and Tamil New Year, known as "Aluth Avurudu" in Sinhala and "Puthandu" in Tamil, is a culturally significant celebration in Sri Lanka. It features rituals, customs, firecrackers, fireworks, traditional sweets, and fun games that engage the whole community.
Why do we celebrate Sinhala and Tamil New Year?
Sinhala and Tamil New Year in Sri Lanka is celebrated to honor the agricultural heritage, embrace astrological significance, preserve cultural traditions, foster unity, and symbolize renewal. This vibrant festival embodies the essence of Sri Lankan culture and serves as a time for reflection, gratitude, and joy as communities come together to embrace the blessings of a new year.
When is Sinhala and Tamil New Year?
Many countries in the world celebrate the new year on the 1st of January. Yet there are several calendars around the world that celebrate different days to welcome New Year. In Sri Lanka, New Year celebrations start on the 13th of April and end on the 14th of the month.
Read more: Sri Lanka public holidays
Sinhala and Tamil New Year is celebrated to honor the agricultural heritage
How To Celebrate Sinhala And Tamil New Year?
According to Sinhalese beliefs, this period is dedicated to observing religious ceremonies. People dress in white and visit temples to engage in religious activities and seek blessings from priests or monks.
Preparations for the annual New Year celebration in Sri Lanka start early with cleaning homes, buying new clothes, and making traditional sweets. The purchase of a new clay pot is also an important tradition. Afterward, traditional dishes like milk rice and various sweets are prepared and shared with family and neighbors, symbolizing unity. During this auspicious time, many individuals, both adults and children, begin their work with renewed determination to achieve their goals in the New Year. Paying respect to elders and seeking their blessings is another treasured tradition. Oil anointing and bathing ceremonies are held to symbolize good health. People visit relatives and neighbors, bringing delicious food and gifts as gestures of goodwill.
Sinhala and Tamil New Year festival is a time of celebration, filled with games, cards, mouthwatering foods, and cherished traditions.
Sinhalese New Year Games
During the Sinhalese New Year, people engage in traditional games that bring joy and foster unity among family and friends. Some popular games include:
- Kotta Pora: A tug-of-war game where two teams compete by pulling on opposite ends of a rope.
- Elle: Similar to cricket, this game involves hitting a small ball with a long wooden stick.
- Olinda Keliya: A board game played using shells, it requires strategic moves and counting skills.
- Raban Keliya: A traditional drumming game where participants play the raban, a traditional drum, to a specific beat.
Sinhalese New Year Cards
Sending greeting cards is a common practice during Sinhalese New Year. These cards often feature traditional symbols and auspicious wishes for the New Year. People exchange cards with family, friends, and loved ones, spreading joy and good wishes for the upcoming year. It is a way to connect and strengthen relationships during this festive time.
Sinhalese New Year Foods
Sinhalese New Year is known for its delectable traditional dishes. Families prepare and enjoy a variety of special foods during this time. Some popular Sinhalese New Year foods include:
- Kiribath: A dish made with rice cooked in coconut milk and shaped into squares. It is a symbol of prosperity and is often served as the first meal of the New Year.
- Kavum: Deep-fried oil cakes made from rice flour, treacle, and sesame seeds. They have a sweet taste and are a favorite among many.
- Kokis: Crispy deep-fried cookies made from rice flour and coconut milk. They have unique shapes, often resembling flowers or stars.
- Mung Kevum: A sweet fritter made from green gram flour, jaggery, and rice flour.
- Aasmi: Delicate, intricately woven sweet treats made from rice flour, coconut milk, and treacle.
These Sri Lanka traditional foods are enjoyed by families and shared with neighbors and friends, spreading the joy of the festive season.
Sinhalese New Year foods in Sri Lanka
Sinhalese New Year Traditions
Sinhalese New Year is steeped in cultural traditions that are followed with great enthusiasm. Some key traditions include:
- Lighting the hearth at an auspicious time to symbolize the start of the New Year.
- Offering betel leaves and seeking blessings from elders, expressing respect and gratitude.
- Anointing with oil symbolizes good health and well-being.
- Visiting temples to seek blessings and engaging in religious rituals.
- Exchanging gifts and sharing meals with family, friends, and neighbors, fostering unity and goodwill.
Sinhala And Tamil New Year Dresses
Sinhala and Tamil New Year in Sri Lanka is a vibrant and festive celebration, and dressing in traditional attire holds great importance during this auspicious occasion. The traditional dresses for Sinhala and Tamil New Year are as follows:
Sinhala New Year Dress
During Sinhala New Year, women wear the "Osariya" or "Kandyan Saree," a long, flowing saree made of colorful fabric with intricate designs. It is draped uniquely, with pleats in the front and the end of the saree over the shoulder. They pair it with a matching blouse and traditional jewelry.
Men wear the "Amude," a white or off-white sarong wrapped around the waist, with a simple white shirt. They also wear the "Cheeththa," a traditional scarf, around their shoulders.
Read more: Sri Lankan Traditional Dress
Sinhala and Tamil New Year in Sri Lanka is a vibrant and festive celebration
Tamil New Year Dress
Tamil New Year attire varies based on regional customs and personal preferences. However, the traditional dress for women is often the "Pattu Pavadai" or "Silk Pavadai." It consists of a long, vibrant silk skirt with intricate patterns and a matching blouse. The outfit is accessorized with traditional jewelry such as necklaces, earrings, and bangles.
Men often wear a traditional Tamil New Year dress called "Veshti" or "Dhoti." It is a long white cloth that is wrapped around the waist and extends down to the ankles. The Veshti is paired with a shirt or a traditional jacket known as "Angavastram."
Both the Sinhala and Tamil communities in Sri Lanka embrace traditional attire not only during the New Year celebration but also on various cultural, wedding, and religious occasions throughout the year. These traditional dresses, characterized by vibrant colors, intricate designs, and elegant styles, are a reflection of the country's cultural heritage and rich traditions. Wearing traditional attire during Sinhala and Tamil New Year is a means of honoring and preserving the cultural identity and customs of these communities. It enhances the beauty and elegance of the festivities, fostering a sense of unity and pride among those partaking in this joyous occasion.
The Sinhala and Tamil New Year in Sri Lanka is a vibrant and joyous celebration that epitomizes the country's cultural mosaic. This joyous occasion showcases the rich heritage and customs of the Sinhala and Tamil people, bringing together families, friends, and neighbors to partake in rituals, games, and feasts.
You can now avail the opportunity to apply for an e-visa to visit Sri Lanka and enjoy all the aforementioned experiences. However, it is important to check the visa requirements for your specific country before beginning the application process. With just a few minutes of your time, you can apply for the necessary travel documents conveniently from anywhere. Enjoy your time in Sri Lanka!