Tamil New Year Festival - Tamil Puthandu

The regional New Year of Tamil Nadu is the Puthuvarusham, Tamil Puthandu, or Tamil New Year. This festival is celebrated in India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Mauritius, Malaysia, and others

Origin & Significance of Tamil New Year

This New Year is celebrated on the spring equinox day. It falls on the 14th of April, every year. The earliest literature reference to the festival is found in the Samgam period literature Netunalvatai. According to this literature, the sun starts it travel on Chithirai (April/May) and travels through eleven different zodiac signs. According to Tolkappiyam, the ancient grammar still in use, the month of Chithirai is the beginning of summer season. Many epics also indicate the importance of this month. In the 11th century, this festival was linked with Vaishnavite (those who pray to Lord Vishnu).

When is Tamil New Year Celebrated?

The day is celebrated on 14th April, every year. According to lunar calendar, this day falls on the first of Chithirai month.

Importance of Tamil New Year

This day is signified as a new beginning. People celebrate this day as the day that would bring them a new start with new opportunities. The cuisine of the day includes raw mango and new flowers, as they represent growth and wealth. A special dish called manga pachadi is made with jaggery, neem flower, red chili, raw mango, and mustard. These six represent the six different tastes known to man. This dish represents the philosophy that life is full of different emotions and not just happiness.

Indians celebrate and worship nature. They associate every natural element to a mythological character or incident. From Vedic perspective, Sun’s movement during this day, makes it more beneficial to conduct agrarian activities like sowing, harvesting, and others. Sun is seen as the vitality for harvest. Many millet varieties would be at harvest during April. In the past, millets were the staple food of South India, not today’s rice. Thus, this is the ancient harvest festival or the beginning of the new agricultural cycle.

How to Celebrate Tamil New Year?

The day is announced as public holiday in Tamil Nadu. People greet each other by saying ‘puthandu valthukkal’. This day starts with Vishu kani. On the eve of this festival, people fill a tray with mukkani (jackfruit, mango, and banana), betal leaves, areca nut, gold article, silver article, money, flowers, and others. A mirror will be placed in front of the tray. On the New Year, people wake up to see the reflection of the tray in the mirror. This is quite similar to the ceremonial tray of Vishu (Malayalam New Year).

The entrance of the house is decorated with kolam, decorative designs made with colorful rice powder.

1. Chithirai Thiruvizha

The cream of celebration takes place in the Meenakshi Amman Kovil of Madurai. On this day, a grand exhibition takes place. This festival starts with Kodi Yetram and the celebration goes on for 14 days. This is the celestial marriage ceremony of Meenakshi Amman and Sundaresar.

2. Tiruvidaimarudur car festival

This day is celebrated with an annual car festival. This is a grand cultural celebration with carnival rides, stalls, cultural activities, special rituals, and much more.

Customs and Traditions of Tamil New Year

  1. The ceremonial tray is seen as a sign of wealth and prosperity. Waking up to this tray is considered very auspicious.
  2. The tradition behind kolam is feeding small lives like ant. The rice powder used in the kolam is said to be an act of feeding every soul in the earth.
  3. Young people fall on the feet of their parents to seek blessing and as a tradition, the parents give money to them.
  4. Sweet Pongal, vada mango pachadi, and kesari or payasam are made and served in fresh banana leaf
  5. People visit any temple early in the morning to take part in rituals
  6. Neem leaves and mango leaves garlands are used to decorate the houses.

Tourist Attractions in Tamil New Year

1. Temples

Special rituals and celebrations take place in the temples all around Tamil Nadu. People believe it to be a good way to start the New Year by taking part in those rituals. Special delicacies will be served to the devotee in the temple.

2. Cultural programs

Numerous cultural programs like dance, music, drama, and others take part in several places in the state. Many sabas conducts special programs for this festival, too.

3. Movies

New movies will be specially released on the Tamil New Year. If you wish to enjoy a Kollywood time, this is the best festival to visit.

4. Restaurants

Special cuisine will be available at the restaurants of Tamil Nadu during this celebration. However, if you wish to enjoy the traditional cuisine of the festival, it is best to get invited to any local house for meal.