Puthandu or VarushaPirappu which means New Year in Tamil is celebrated on the first day of chithirai month, which falls on April 14 every year as per the Gregorian calendar. Tons of evidence from Tamil literature has mentioned the significance of this day. Tholkapiyam, an ancient Tamil grammar text has explained that a year is separated into 6 seasons and chithirai thirunaal marks the beginning of summer – the auspicious month which showers prosperity.
On this day, Tamilians across the globe wear new clothes, perform pooja to their respective gods and greet each other with ” Puthandu Nalvazhthukal ” meaning Happy New Year.
The preparation starts at least a month before the festival.The first step involves cleaning the entire house to remove negative energy. Some prefer to paint the house as well. On the Tamil New Year Eve, intricate kolams using rice flour and red oxide is put on the entrances to welcome gods in the house. Entrances are well decorated with thoranams and neem leaves and a potu made of tumeric and kungumam is put on each door to kill the pests and ensure cleanliness.
The new year always starts off with worshipping favourite gods and later a delicious meal is prepared to feast on. A key ingredient called ‘Veppampoo’ AKA neem flower is collected from neem trees, fried in ghee and is sprinkled on top of simmered mixture of jaggery, sour mango and the maangaipachadi is prepared. The bitterness of Veppam poo, sweetness of jaggery and sourness of the mango signifies that life is a mix of happiness and sadness, one has to learn to accept both and tune with it. Along with this, a sweet, a delicious spread of vegetarian food is prepared. From rice, sambhar, rasam, kootu, poriyal to appalam and payasam.
Chithirai Thiruvizha is conducted in different parts of Tamil Nadu to celebrate the wedding of goddess Meenakshi and Lord Shiva. Hence, massive exhibitions and food festivals are conducted around the temple area. Temples in Trichy, Kanchipuram and Kumbakonam conduct the annual temple car festival where the devotees pull the decorated ratham through the streets and culturally bond with each other.
NEW YEAR AMIDST A PANDEMIC
It is the most prosperous day of year, marking a splendid journey. But in 2021, a new year is going to be born when a pandemic caused by corona virus is still killing people. It is very important to celebrate the day in a responsible and precautionary manner. It is okay to celebrate with old clothes, it is absolutely fine to cook just one dish and it is okay to not visit temples. Ultimately, spending quality time with family and friends physically or virtually and preparing for the future is the most important and happiest thing to do.
A celebration is in the heart and thought that goes into it.
இனிய தமிழ் புத்தாண்டு நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள்.
Enjoy this New Year with your loved ones by following precautionary measures against Covid 19.
Stay safe and spread love.