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Celebrate New Year with joy
What keeps humanity going, despite many ups and downs in life is the promise of fresh beginnings. A New Year offers just. A fresh start is what all Tamilians, Malayalis and Bengalis would look forward to on April 14 this year as they celebrate Tamil New Year, Vishu and Pohela Boishakh respectively.
According to the puranas, the new year coincides with the day the Lord of Creation, Brahama officially started on the job of creation. The Tamil New Year also heralds the arrival of Vasantha rudhu. This is the season when an abundance of mangoes, jackfruits and plantains grow everywhere.
Chittirai, the first month in the Tamil calendar signifies the days when the sun is positioned perfectly—the sun rise is be perfectly on time, and the onset of noon and sunset take place with a scientific precision.
Hindu festivals are always about inclusiveness, about bhakti and about family bonding. The Tamil New Year and Vishu in particular are perfect example of this.
In all Tamil homes men will undertake pitru tharpanam (remembering the ancestors), and head out to temples, where the panchangam (almanac) is traditionally read out. The almanac is a ready reckoner on five things like tithi, varam, yogam, karnam and star. While they have a particular reference to each individual, the almanac also provide guidelines horoscopes and other events. Tamilians also celebrate the New Year with fresh neem flowers, mango and jiggery. A pachadi made of all these three ingredients signifies the bitter-sweet nature of our lives and the need to take everything in balance.
Among the Keralites, Vishu is a great harbinger of good tidings. They begin the day be opening their eyes to Vishu kani. On the night prior to Vishu, a huge uruli is set up as the centrepiece in the living room or puja room. It is filled with different types of fruits, rice, dals, coconut, silver coins, gold ornaments and silver items and coins currently in circulation. Konnai flowers and other flowers are artistically set out and a mirror is placed in front of the arrangement. In the morning, the elders bring the children with their eyes lightly blindfolded, and make open their eyes only in front of the kani, ensuring that it is the first thing they see on the morning of Vishu.
Elders also gift their children with silver or gold coins, a practice that some Tamil homes have begun to follow in recent times.
Vishu is also celebrated in a grand manner at the Guruvayur temple. The flower decoration is unparalleled and the See Veli is conducted for three hours, thrice that day, unlike the usual practice of half-an-hour. It is the day when the sun’s rays directly fall at the feet of the Lord at Guruvayurappan temple, and it is a sight to behold.
The Tamil New Year always falls on April 14, except in a leap year. It is the day when happiness and hope descends upon mankind.
— The writer lectures on spirituality and devotion