Sri Lankans celebrate the sun festival in the month of April to symbolize prosperity and harmony. Sinhala and Tamil new year is the biggest celebration in Sri Lanka that features a load of rituals and customs. The simple gestures of the festival symbolize unity amongst all with no boundaries. Based on the sun’s movement from Pisces to Aries in the zodiac, Sri Lankans welcome the new year in the month of April. It’s the much-awaited time of the year with the pleasant call of Koha. The celebration is full of firecrackers and fireworks. This is a ritual to honour the God of the Sun since the early times. Enriched by a long history, this is the best season to witness the core traditions of Sri Lankans that are full of fun activities and traditional games. And the specialities of this festival are the unique rituals and the traditions that make this period memorable and most attractive.
The new year rituals initially start with a neutral period called the “Nonagathe”. So, during this period people keep off from all the work and engage in religious activities. This is the time slot between the ending of the old year and the dawning of the New year. People are seen heading to their respective religious places clade in white apparel seeking many blessings.
Sri Lankans prepare in advance to welcome the new year from cleaning and repainting their households to buying new clothes for family members and preparing traditional confectionery. And the purchase of a new clay pot is an important tradition. When the New Year Auspicious time arrives, the New year is welcomed by lighting the hearth and the boiling of fresh milk in the newly purchased clay pot that symbolizes prosperity. The spilling of the milk from all sides of the plot is considered to bring good luck to the entire family. Then milk rice is prepared and served among the family and then with neighbours and relatives as well. Food plays a major role in new year celebrations in Sri Lanka. A huge table with Kiribath, bananas, sweets like Kavum, Kokis, Thalaguli, Aggala, Aasmi, and Aluwa is prepared in every house. Every family enjoys the feast by lighting an oil lamp at the auspicious time and starting work and exchanging money and gifts. Once the family finishes the New Year meal people do some work to symbolize the starting of work in the new year. This ritual is defined as ‘Weda Alleema” and then the money and business transactions are carried out among family members and others during the specific time period seeking blessings for success. And some people pay respect to the well for the clean and clear water provided by it throughout the year.
The auspicious time is also when many commence their work with determination to perform better and to gain more during the new year. The most valuable tradition that is passed over centuries in Sri Lanka is paying homage to elders. A sheaf of betel leaves is presented to all elders in the family while the young ones seek their blessings for the future.
A special ceremony is held to anoint oil which is usually conducted by the oldest family member. This tradition symbolizes good health. And there is an auspicious time to leave for jobs. Many people head towards their hometowns during the new year holidays and head back again to their own workplace. Many villagers and other localities conduct new year festivals in both simple and grand manner. They are full of fun related energetic games and joyful activities. Games like pillow frightening and tug of war are very much common at those festivals.
Sinhala and Tamil New Year is a well-celebrated cultural festival that brings all Lankans together in many parts of the world. This is the only time of the year that offers Sri Lankans a chance to offer gratitude and celebrate as one family. This celebration prioritizes varied beliefs and customs, and religious practices associated with agriculture. The approach of each ritual at a given auspicious time is marked by the sound of loud firecrackers. And this is the only time to Rejoice and Refresh. The month of April is when joy, contentment and freshness overflow in Sri Lankan hearts.
Mother nature too responds to this season. The flowers start blooming and fruit trees overflow with ripe fruits in April. The red colour “Erabudu” is a significant flower that can be seen in the new year season. The fruits that can be seen very commonly are Cashew, Rambutan, Jackfruit and Mangoes. This month receives rain and sunshine both in equal amounts.
The Sinhala and Tamil New Year is a season of celebration and joy for everyone all over Sri Lanka irrespective of age, colour or religion. This is the only opportunity to strengthen the bond between the Communities. Wishing all Sri Lankans, a very happy Sinhala and Tamil New Year filled with good health and prosperity!!!
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