Common traditions for Puthandu (Tamil New Year)

By Remitbee - Mar 23, 2022

Like other years, there are a lot of expectations for the Tamil New Year as people gear up to welcome the Puthandu in style. For centuries, the Tamilians have had certain traditions passed from generation to generation.

This year, it will not be different as Tamilians globally usher in the new year on 14th April 2022. This special date will mark the onset of the Chittirai, which is the Tamil solar calendar.

Besides the Tamil people, other communities such as Vishu, Bihu, Boishak, and Baishakhi commemorate the Puthandu through traditional festivals. Worth noting, states such as Manipur, Odisha, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, and Rajasthan hold their celebrations on the same day.

In this discussion, we'll take you through the common traditions for the Puthandu ( Tamil New Year). Keep reading.

Preparations

A day before the Puthandu starts, women clean their houses and take part in decorating the surfaces of walls and floors with Kolam art. Kolam is an aesthetic art that symbolizes prosperity and happiness and with this, you’ll find all manner of colorful designs in their homes. But, the most common is composed of curves, loops, and straight lines sketched along with dots. You will mostly find these on the doorways of many homes and buildings. The welcoming vibes give an air of festivity and make people cherish the new year.

In the absence of rice, people use chalk to sketch kolam designs on the entryways of homes. A special lamp known as the kuthu vilakku is placed in the middle point of the kolam to illuminate the area and create festive vibes.

The idea of doing these activities before the ceremony is that you can have time to make merry, catch up with other people and enjoy yourself during Puthandu.

Food Preparation

Food preparation is one of the activities before the new year since it will be time to celebrate and feed on delicious meals. Women gather different varieties of food comprising spicy or kaaram, thuvarpu, sweet, bitter, salty, and sour delicacies.
During the day, people sit down to enjoy the meals while dressed in their traditional attires. They also pay their respects to the seniors in their homes.

Greetings

The special greetings are a unique aspect of the Puthandu where women, men, and children greet each other with the common phrase "Puthandu Vazthukal."

Essentially, it's the same as saying "Happy New Year." as is common with western tradition.

Prayers

Since it's a new year for the Tamil people, it's a time to reflect and seek blessings at the temples for the opportunity to crossover to a new start. During this time, people begin their day by visiting the nearest temples and devoting their time to conducting rituals. On the way to the temple, it's common to see people breaking coconuts as an offering to Lord Ganesha. In addition, it's a sacred way of getting rid of things such as challenges and calamities as the year progresses.

Also, read - how to decorate for tamil new year

Common rituals include lighting up the Sambrani smoke, which consists of empowering fragrances such as myrrh, copal, and frankincense. The myth behind the Sambrani is that it can cleanse the air and bring positive vibes as the Tamil people start the year.

The people also play special songs and dances to appease the Gods. They also play traditional instruments to commemorate the festivity.

Aarti is a common religious ritual whereby the Tamil people offer light or flame of light to the deities. Here the worshipers surround the lamp in a circle and chant prayers and sing songs.

People also perform the Brahman Bhoj during the celebrations and seek blessings from the gods. Normally, the chief priest recites the "Panchangam." to the worshippers.

An elder also reads the Panchangam at family gatherings at home. The Panchangam is a calendar with traditional timekeeping, calculations, and important dates.

Offering the Pongal and Ugadi Manga Pachadi for Worship

A special spicy rice dish known as Pongal is presented to the gods at the temple.Mangai-Pachadi is also prepared on this day.

Notably, Ugadi Manga Pachadi is a traditional sweet mango recipe prepared on this memorable day. The dish is an important menu offered to the gods during the Pathandu.

Other Offerings

Another common tradition during the new year is the offering of gold and silver jewelry, coins, areca nut, and betel leaves to the deities during the ceremony. The items are put in a tray alongside a banana, mango, and jackfruit.

The tray is placed beside the god and goddess idols. It's believed that these offerings are a sign of better things to come during the year and will bring good luck.

Cleansing Bath

The Tamil people bathe with traditional herbs such as turmeric as part of a new beginning. Some people can bathe in the morning, while others can extend the cleansing throughout the day. It's not only refreshing but memorable too.

Dressing

During the celebrations, people don traditional Tamil attires or costumes consisting of a Lungi or Dhoti and Angavastra for the men. Women drape a sari while young girls wear a half sari alongside a skirt and blouse.

Even though it's not compulsory to buy new clothes during the new year, modern families shop for new clothes and dress their favourite during the occasion.

Children too are dressed in coloured clothes and look forward to showing their best.

Catching up With Friends and Family

Because it's the new year, people visit their friends and family to enjoy the day together. Here kids exchange sweets, food, and niceties while adults enjoy the cuisines and make merry.

Conclusion

Puthandu is an important day in the Tamil people's calendar. It represents the start of a new year where there are a lot of expectations and hope. People take time to worship, give thanks to the gods through offerings. Its also a time to enjoy, make merry, and catch up with families and friends. Hopefully, this year's Puthandu will be a time to relish, connect with your loved ones and start a new beginning.

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