Guest Author - Preena Deepak
In an eclectic country like India with diversity in language, food, culture and traditions, several New Year celebrations does not come as a surprise. Almost every State has its own New Year Day which is celebrated with much pomp and ado. These State specific New Year Days are local holidays and each New Year Day is celebrated with elaborate traditions, food and worship.
There are several reasons for the multitude of New Year Day celebrations in India. Being an agricultural country with a vast majority of the population still engaged in farming and allied activities; the harvest cycle is honored by most Indian communities. The beginning or end of the harvest season denotes the commencement of a New Year for these agrarian communities.
Some Indian states declare the dawn of spring as the beginning of a New Year. This is also the time when seeds are sown in fields.Most other Indians observe New Year on the first day of the Hindu Lunar Calendar. Almost all New Year Day celebrations in India have religious connotations and are often related to the several gods and goddesses worshiped by Indian Hindus.
In spite of these differences, all Indians celebrate 1st of January as the New Year besides region specific New Year days. Parties are held on a grand scale in shopping malls, hotels, amusement parks and resorts. Being a highly religious community, New Year Day finds all places of worship in full attendance, with devotees belonging to the faith offering prayers for their well being in the year ahead. Family and friends meet and greet one another with elaborate festive food and share gifts as well. Fireworks go ablaze as soon as the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Day and New Year greetings are shared with all.
Here is a gist of some State specific New Year Days in India.
Baisakhi is the New Year Day in Punjab. It is a harvest festival and also a time when the Sikh Guru Govind Singh is honored.
Bestu Varas , the New Year festival of Gujarat is the day after diwali.
Assam in North East India celebrates Bihu to mark the coming of spring and the commencement of the sowing season. These New Year Celebrations extend for several days and include dances, fairs and traditional food.
Cheiraoba is celebrated in Manipur as New Year Day and several customary traditions are observed on this day.
The Birth Anniversary of Sindhi Saint Jhulelal and the first day of Chaitra (Hindu calendar month) known locally as Cheti chand is New Years Day for Sindhis
Diwali the Indian Festival of lights is the day when the Marwari community of Rajasthan celebrates New Year Day. New books of accounts are opened by business houses on this auspicious day.
The first day of Chaitra in the Hindu calendar is the New Year Festival, Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra. On this day a ‘Gudi’ or a pole is decorated and erected in homes with a brass or silver vessel attached.
The end of the harvest season is observed as New Year Day and called Losoong in Sikkim. Traditional dances and religious rites are highlights of the day.
Navreh, the New Year Day of Kashmir is the first day of chaitra
In West Bengal and Bangladesh, Poila Baishakh is New Year Day and marked with feasts and celebrations. It is the practice of Business houses to open fresh accounts on this day.
Tamil Puthandu marks the commencement of a New Year in Tamil Nadu. This is the first day of Chaitra and Tamilians begin the day by looking at auspicious items like gold, silver, fruits, vegetables and nuts. Homes are decorated with kolam (colorful patterns) and kuthuvilakku (lighted lamps) on this day.
In Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, New Year Day is called Ugadi and falls on the first day of Chaitra.
Vishu is the New Year celebration of Kerala. It is the first day of the Malayalam month called ‘medam’. Special offerings which include gold, rice, cucumber, betel nuts, holy texts and special yellow flowers are arranged in homes on the previous evening and are seen first thing in the morning to bring luck through the year.