Sinhala and Tamil New Year Highlights
Sinhala and Tamil New Year – This wonderful festival celebrating the union of Sinhala Buddhists and Hindus living in Sri Lanka is held on the 13th and 14th of April. In the Sinhala year, when old friends and relatives are renewed, everyone is happy together, forgetting the resentments that existed between many people. Everyone, big and small, gets great joy from performing New Year rituals and gathering for New Year games. From April 13, various rituals are held for about a week. In the Catholic system, the beginning of the coming year occurs on the first day of January or Duruthu. It is the New Year accepted all over the world and in the past, it was called the Christian year, but now it is called the practical year. But the Sinhala and Tamil New Year that we are celebrating is meaningful only to a limited number of people in the world and it is called the Shaka year.
How Tourists Celebrate Sinhala and Tamil New Year (Sri Lanka New Year Celebration)
Sinhala and Tamil New Year can be considered an unforgettable experience that you can have while traveling in picturesque Sri Lanka. Some tourists come to Sri Lanka for the New Year holidays. Sinhala and Tamil New Year is celebrated in April, so it is a very suitable month for tourists. As the New Year approaches, many tourist hotels organize New Year celebrations for tourists. Also, there are New Year sports festivals all over Sri Lanka. And April is a month of many fruits in Sri Lanka. So we believe that this experience will be an unforgettable experience for you.
The past story of Sinhala and Tamil New Year
About 1940 years ago, this Shaka Varsha system started with the “Shaka Dynasty” in India. The Shaka dynasty was ruled by the “Shaka kings”. They started a new calendar called the Saka year as one of the confirmation factors to maintain their power and family name. It was formulated based on the position and movement of the Sun and Planetary objects and its basic theory was based on Nakshatra and Nauset. According to a Saka year, it begins when the Sun transits from Pisces to Aries on the 13th or 14th of April. In preparing for Shaka years, auspiciousness was done in advance and at that time this was not a year of Sinhala Buddhists or Tamil Hindus. But with time the rituals of this Shaka Varsha system showed similarities with the rituals of Tamil Hindus so they started celebrating their New Year in this way.
According to past sources, there are no clear reasons why Sinhala Buddhists started celebrating the New Year in this way. We can think that this Shaka Varsha system was accepted by the Sinhalese Buddhists in Sri Lanka because of the customs of the Dravidian rulers who invaded Sri Lanka in the past. However, from then until today, this new year, which is celebrated by Sinhalese and Tamil nationals in this Shaka year system, has become a major cultural element in Sri Lanka.
This system has several unique features that make it different from other applied years in the world.
In other words, a fiscal year that we know ends on 31st December every year at 11.59 pm. Similarly, with the next second, the new year begins. But in this Shaka Varsha system, New Year’s Eve takes place between the 13th and 14th of the coming April after the first 3 months of a practical year have passed. There is no specific time for this and New Year’s Eve occurs at different times each year.
Preparations for the Sinhala and Tamil new year
In the past, the people of this country have been eagerly preparing for the New Year for many days. The barns are filled with the harvests of hard farming throughout the year. The residents who make a new face by smearing the house with dung clay, provide the necessary items for the home such as sweets, pots, and pans for New Year’s Eve. Children and adults alike do not forget to make new clothes. Thus, the small hut and the big house prepare to welcome the New Year in this way.
Various rituals are performed to celebrate the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.
Sighting of the new moon
The Sinhalese people did their farming according to the pattern of the moon. Although the New Year is celebrated based on the sun, the first ritual is to pay respect to the moon. The ritual of seeing the new moon takes place before April 13. According to the auspicious time, looking at the moon and saying 3 “hoos” is done by the head of the house. The loss is accompanied by playing the tambourine and eating sweets.
Bath for the old year
This ritual usually falls on the 12th or 13th of April. On that day, according to the time given by the fortune-tellers, the medicine is taken in the body and bathed. The Kohomba plant is widely used for this purpose. The reason for this healing can be attributed to the fact that the Kohomba plant has an anti-toxic property.
New Year’s Eve
According to the Shaka Varsha system, the arrival of Surya from Pisces to Aries is New Year’s Eve. This ritual falls on the 14th day of April. According to the time given by the fortune tellers, firecrackers are lit to symbolize New Year’s Eve. After that, best wishes are added to their close friends. The celebration of the year begins with the beating of tambourines.
Although the beginning and end of the calendar year are a second apart, the time between New Year’s Eve and Old Year in the Shaka Varsha system can be several hours. This period is known as the “transitional period” and the non-auspicious period. Nonagatya is the time without auspiciousness. Similarly, auspicious people believe that it is inappropriate to work during this time. Therefore, they believe that it is good to engage in religious activities during this time.
Stove lighting and cooking
The first cooking of the New Year is done according to an auspicious sign. According to the time given by the astrologers, a new fire is placed in the purified hearth and the fire is lit facing the auspicious direction. Here there is an auspicious direction as well as an auspicious color depending on the year. Accordingly, it is customary to wear clothes in that color. Nowadays, even in homes that use gas stoves, a wood stove is lit in the middle of the living room and milk is left. Otherwise, milk rice is cooked for auspiciousness.
Start working and eating.
This auspicious work is said to be catching, eating, and dealing. A separate part of each type of sweet prepared on the New Year’s table is offered to the Buddha, and a lamp-lit flower plant is set aside for the deity in front of the house. It is considered the main custom among the New Year rituals. First, the auspicious food is eaten and then the other rituals are performed. Villagers start eating after lighting a coconut oil lamp at the New Year’s table. In the ritual of catching work, catching work is done according to the profession of different people. What farmers do is cut the soil with a hoe and plant a tree. Young children write letters or read a book.
Dealing is done after catching the work. The meaning of dealing like this is to share the money earned with respect. Nowadays, when doing business, one puts money in a betel leaf and bows to an elderly person. Then the elderly person puts more money than he received on a betel leaf and gives it to that person. There was also a custom of dealing with the well in the villages. Go to the well from which the house gets water, turn to the good side, put flowers and ginger in the well, and fill a pot with water. A copper coin has to be thrown into the well.
Head oiling and bathing.
This is applied a day or two after New Year’s Day. After bathing in the old year, ancient people bathed again after applying scalp oil. Nowadays, in many villages, oil extraction is done based on the village temples. There, a canopy with medicinal plant material is prepared for the head and feet and scalp oil is applied while sitting there. There, a doctor or a priest of the village temple performs the oiling. Performing the custom by reciting a verse and wishing for long life and health.
Leaving for Jobs.
The people of the ancient farming society, after celebrating the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, went back to farming and other work only after the departure auspicious for jobs. It falls about a week after New Year’s Day. According to the auspicious sign, it was customary for the wife to come forward with a vase filled with water when starting her journey to work.
How does the Sinhala and Tamil New Year give meaning to real life?
At the end of all the above periods, the year will gradually leave the wonderful environment. With the dawn of the New Year, the life of a man takes a new direction, as well as renewing ties to think anew and familiarizing the human mind with cooperation and coexistence. The year begins with happiness and joy, but if you do not limit that happiness only to the time of the year, but fill your heart with joy and do things regularly, the auspiciousness of the year will be fruitful throughout your life.