The Sinhala and Tamil New Year is one of the most significant and the most awaited festival in Sri Lanka. Normaly in many countries in the world celebrates their new year on 1st of January but in some countries they celebrate or welcome their new year on different periods. Likewise in Sri Lanka , Sinhalese and Tamils welcome the New Year on April 13th and 14th. This festival is know as the biggest celebration in Sri Lanka with many rituals and customs.
This happens with the movement of the sun to Meena Rashiya (Piesces) to Mesha Rashiya (Aries). This is also know as the sun festival, which is performed to honour the God of Sun. The Sinhala and Tamil New Year has a long history and so that this is the best season to visit Sri Lanka to experience many traditions and rituals. Plus, you can enjoy plenty of fun activities and traditional games which you cannot experience anywhere else in the world. Also you can have different kinds of various traditional meals and sweets which were prepared newly by the people to welcome the New Year.
Most especially, the rituals made the festival so unique within the country, among Sinhalese and Tamils that leaves many specialities and memories. New Year starts in the Neutral period ( Nonagathaya ) on 13th April. During this time people engaged in religious activities after stopping or keeping aside all their work. Moreover, people must stop eating until the auspicious time comes.
Rituals of Sinhala and Tamil New Year
There are many rituals that has to be followed by the Sinhalese and Tamils during the New Year date on the given auspicious time.
Lighting the hearth (Lipa gini melaveema)
This is the ever first ritual that is to be done by the people when the New Year starts. The hearth will be lit to prepare the milk rice (kiri bath), symbolises prosperity, that is a must meal on the traditional meal table on the New Year day.
First meal at thr traditional meal table (ahara anubhavaya)
Kavum, kokis, kiribath, aluwa, aasme, welithalapa, aggala are few sweets that are prepared for the meal table on the New Year. Actually, on this season food plays a major role. This has to be done in an auspicious time after lighting an oil lamp on the meal table.
Re – starting work (weda ellila)
After the family finishes having meals, they have to start working with their stuff. As a symbol, children used to study books and parents used plant a tree on their garden.
Exchanging money (ganu denu kireema)
Next, people do their transactions (mostly elders) among family members to symbolise that to have a year ahead without any financial issue.
Anointing oil (hisa thel gema)
This is the last ritual to be done in the New Year period. This will be doing by mixing different kinds of various oils together and make an one ointment to apply on people’s heads to bless with good health.
Sinhala and Tamil New Year Sweets
As mentioned before, food plays a major role in this celebration period.
- Kavum (oil cake) – athiraha, mun kavum, hedi kavum, konda kavum are some types of kavums that are newly made before new year to give us the smell that new year is coming. It is a deep fried, so sweet, cake like thing.
- Kokis – a deep fried, cripsy sweet.
- Kiribath – milk and rice.
- Aasmi – crunchy, sweet topped with caramel syrup.
- Aluwa – soft, so sweet.
Above are some sweets that a visitor, traveller or a foreigner that must try during this season.
New Year Games. (Aurudu kreeda)
Actually, this season is all about happiness, peace and unity. So that people used to do many or sing new year songs together with families, neighbours and villagers. Some traditional games are;
- Playing Rabana – it is a huge drum that people sits around and plays it while singing new year verses(raban padha).
- Olinda keliya and Pancha demima – these are two board games, played by two or more people.
- Onchili pedima (swinging) – this is mostly done by the girls while singing Onchili waaram (swinging verses).
New Year Games Festival (aurudu uthsava)
This js a festival that is done by the whole village together. There are plenty of events tk be done, for elders and youngers both. Some are;
- Eliyata eha thabima – placinh the eye on the drawn elephant while you are blindfolded.
- Kaba edeema – pulling a rope from the two sides by two teams.
- Kotta pora – hitting with two pillows who are sitted on a pole built up.
- Kanamutti – breaking the pots hang up far away while you are blindfolded.
- Lissana Gaha – climbing a greasy pole by teams.
Plus, there are many modern games.
- Balloon dance.
- Music chair.
- Putting the thread in to a needle.
- Walking while keeping a lime on a spoon hold by mouth.
- Three legs race.
If you are interested in visiting Sri Lanka, you may come on this period to get a different experience over the cultures. You can enjoy and experience many things that you have never experienced before. This is celebrated all around the world so without any interruption you can see these cultures, rituals, you can have aurudu sweets, you can see new year games festivals. And also, you will be able to hear the sounds of loud fire crackers everywhere which shows the New Year spirit.