The Tamil New Year, Varsha Pirappu or Puthandu, is observed on the first day of Tamil month Chithirai, the first month as per traditional Tamil Calendar. In 2016, the date of Varsha Pirappu or Tamil New Year is April 14. Chitirai 1 is an auspicious day for Tamil speaking people in India (Tamil Nadu) and across the world, especially in Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and South Africa.
A major highlight of the Tamil New Year is the viewing of ‘Kanni’ – meaning auspicious things. Legend has it that viewing auspicious things on this day will bring good fortune throughout the year.
After viewing the Kanni, it is time for a ritualistic bath. After the bath, it is time to draw the ‘Kolam’ or Rangoli (Tamil New Year Kolams). The ‘kolam’ is believed to bring good fortune to the famil members. Then, the doorways are decorated with mango leaves.
After this the family assembles for prayers. The prayers begin w
ith the lighting of the traditional lamp (kuthu vilakku).
The lamp is placed next to a brass bowl with a short neck, which contains water and is decorated with mango leaves – called the niraikudum.
Then, it is time to head to the nearby temples to seek the blessings of the Gods. In some temples, people gather to listen to the Tamil Panchangam, which contains the predictions of the coming year.
What to do on Tamil New Year?
Varsha Pirappu, the Tamil New Year day, observed in the month of Chithirai is observed or celebrated mainly by viewing ‘Kanni,’ reading or listening to Tamil Panchangam (New Year Predictions) and by eating the nevadiya neem leaf pachadi. The list of what to do on Tamil New Year day varies from region to region and from community to community.
- New clothes for the family
- New Year Panchangam
- Neem leaves and Neem flowers
- Usual fruits used for Pujas
- Usual Flowers
- For Kanni – viewing of auspicious things in the morning of New Year – Gold, silver, jewelry, mirror, new clothes, new calendar, bananas, arecanut, betel leaves, raw rice, coconuts, fruits, vegetables and other newly harvested farm products.
- House is thoroughly cleaned and doors and windows are decorated with festoons – especially leaves of mango.
- After bathing, the eldest female member in the family starts the Puja arrangement.
- Kolam or Rangoli is drawn; the Vilakku kolam is the preferred one during the New Year.
- If new clothes are distributed to family members, then it is arranged in front of the deity.
- Neem leaf Pachadi is prepared. It is basically a mixture of jaggery, chillies, salt, neem leaf or flowers and tamarind. It symbolizes that life is a mixture of sweet and sour.
- In places where Kanni is viewed, an elderly member guides others to the view the arrangement of auspicious things. This arrangement is usually done on the previous night.
- In other places, all members wake up and take bath and receive new clothes.
The most important puja on the day is the Panchanga Puja. Some people also perform the Navagraha Pooja.
- For Panchanga Puja, the latest Panchangam is placed in front of the deity in the Puja room.
- It is then anointed with chandan (sandalwood paste), kumkum and turmeric paste.
- Some flowers are placed on the panchanga.
- A simple puja and aarati is performed for the deity.
- The neem leaf pachadi is eaten on empty stomach.
- People then wish friends and relatives – puthandu vazhthugal.
After the Pooja, the Panchangam is read especially the predictions for the next year. People who do not perform the Panchangam puja perform a simple puja.
Some people prefer to listen to the Panchanga padanam held in temples.
The menu for the day usually consists of food made from fresh vegetables. Green banana and jack fruit preparations are a must in many families. Sweet includes any one or two variety of payasam.
Some families perform tharpanam (remembering the dead ancestors and other rituals) on the day.