Across the world, New Year is celebrated on 1st January. The first day of the New Year is welcomed with a lot of festivities and extravaganza with cities and countries all over the world beginning the momentous countdown from New Year’s Eve or 31st December.
And though India too participates in the New Year celebrations, it’s interesting to note that Indian’s celebrate not one but many New Years’. Because of the large mix of religions and regions that comprise and contend together, each has its own cultural specialties that thrive despite and in spite of the entire large conundrum in which they all co-exist. And hence, like many other differences that do at some points seem to interweave together, the traditional, religious and regional contrasts though all relate to similar ideas and ideologies, add more variety and charm to the Indian cultural landscape.
Many communities follow their own calendars. There are both lunar and solar calendars that are followed by the different regional or religious groups and so for each of them the New Year falls on separate days. This is truly interesting, because there is the Georgian calendar that is followed for all practical and administrative purposes across India and the festivals and celebrations on it are also acknowledged and celebrated. But, traditionally the regional or religious calendars are also equally important and festivals or celebrations that are very ethnic and traditional in nature are celebrated on the respective days according to those calendar dates.
Here is taking a look at the different Indian New Year festivals that are celebrated across the different regions and communities of India.
Gudi Padwa is celebrated as New Year in Maharashtra, Goa and the Konkan region. This is a springtime festival and falls on the first day of the month of Chaitra. A ‘gudi’ which resembles a flag with decorated with flowers and topped with an inverted vessel is kept outside homes. Houses are cleaned and new clothes are worn on this day. Maharashtrians also prepare savories, such as puran poli and shrikhand.
The harvest festival celebrated in north India is fraught with colors and a lot of fun. Usually falling sometime on 13 or 14 April and marks the first day of the month of Vaisakha. It is also a religious and historical festival for Sikhs because it marks the beginning of the Khalsa.
Ugadi is the New Year for Hindus of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It is the first day of the month of Chaitra. The kolamulus are beautiful floor decorations along with mango leaf decors along the doors and windows. A lot of donations are also made to temples and religious institutes on this day. Some of the special dishes prepared are pacchadi, pulihora and bobbatlu.
The most important festival of Assam and the northeast region is its New Year that also coincides with its harvesting season. It is celebrated seven days after Vishuva Sankranti in the month of Vaisakh or also called the month of Bohag locally.
The New Year for Bengalis is also called the Bangla Nabobarsho. According to the Bengali calendar it is celebrated on the first day of the first month of Baishakh. In fact, it is the same day Baishaki is celebrated in north India, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu and Vishu in Kerala. It is also a declared holiday in Bangladesh.
In Tamil Nadu the New Year is also known as Puthuvarusham. The day is spent with family and special prayers or pujas are also conducted. People wear new clothes and youngsters seek the blessings of the older generation. It is celebrated on the first day of the Tamil month Chittirai. On the New Year ’s Eve a tray is prepared with various assortments, such as fruits, betel leaves, jewelry, coins, flowers and a mirror. It is considered auspicious to see the tray on the first day of the New Year.
Celebrated in Kerala, Vishu has many similarities with Puthandu. It is also celebrated on 14th April, however, its most marked distinction is the simplicity with which it is celebrated. People usually visit temples in the early morning of the New Year.
Bestu or Nav Waras
The New Year celebrations of Gujarat fall a day after Diwali. It is also called Varsha-pratipada or padwa. Traditional costumes are worn and homes are decorated and lighted.
Losoogn is the Sikkim New Year and is celebrated in the month of December. Based on the Tibetan lunar calendar it is the traditional festival of the Bhutia tribe but is also celebrated by the Lepchas and is called Namsoong. The celebrations include burning of the demon, as well as organizing competitions. Prayers are offered in monasteries.
Besides, other religious New Year festivals, include the Islamic Hijri New Year, Navreh which is a Kashmiri Hindu festival and Cheti Chand by Sindhi’s.
Though many New Years’ fall around the same time they are celebrated differently and each has its own cultural connotations.
Here is wishing everyone a very Happy 2020 and hoping that the next year will bring equally happy and prosperous New Years’ that will fall all along the year!