Monday, 14 April 2014

Tamil New Year (Varisha Piruppu or Puthandu)

Indian New Year celebration embodies nation’s unity: PM Lee

Rhythms in Unity was the theme for this year's Indian New Year celebration at Ang Mo Kio on Saturday evening, as Indians of various ethnic groups came together to celebrate

Indians of various ethnic groups on Saturday came together to celebrate the Indian New Year at Ang Mo Kio. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the event was an embodiment of its theme, Rhythms in Unity, as well as on a larger scale where everyone participates as one big Singapore family.

Guest of Honour, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, said the event was an embodiment of the theme as well as on a larger scale where everyone participates as one big Singapore family.

Mr Lee said: "Singaporeans, new arrivals, people who are on permanent residence here, people who are on employment pass here, all participating in one big Singapore family... So that we feel that this is a place which is special, which belongs to all of us and where we all celebrate one another's festivals and happy events together."

read more

Many Indians celebrate their new year in March and April

THE months of March and April are significant for many Indian communities, namely the Tamils, Telugus and Malayalees who will celebrate their respective new year.

Puthanda (April 14) - The Tamil New Year, known as Varisha Piruppu or Puthandu (new year) marks the first day of the first month – Chittirai – in the Tamil calendar. With greetings of puthandu valthukal (happy new year) most Tamils visit their elders and relatives, and savour vegetarian meals on the day. For the Tamil people, Puthandu carries great significance and is observed with prayers throughout the day.

The celebration is a modest and sweet affair as many anticipate sweet returns throughout the year. They take the extra effort to clean the house, adorn new clothes and have an elaborate prayer with family before settling for the sumptuous vegetarian meal. The highlight of the new year celebration is, however, the reading of the panjangam(Tamil almanac), said Malaysia Hindu Sangam vice-president Dr Rupa Saminathan. She explained that the temples would read out the panjangam according to the various zodiacs to give a general forecast to individuals on what to expect for the new year.

read more

S'pore belongs to all those living here: PM Loong

The Indian New Year fall on April 14 but some communities celebrate on different dates as per celebrations held in different parts of India.

Singaporeans usually use weekends to celebrate on a large scale amidst multi-cultural society with one of the big celebrations held annually in the PM's constituency.

Indian makes up about 9 per cent of over 5 million Singaporeans and those living here. Chinese accounts for 74 per cent and the Malays form 13 per cent of the population.

read more

The Many Flavors of the Hindu New Year

Hindus all over the world do not have a common New Year's Day. There are at least three popular new year days in the Hindu calendar which, for almost a billion people, is being quite economical. The celebration of the new year has more to do with community, language and region, than with religious affiliation. Apart from Ugadi, there are the mid-April new year celebrations for many Hindu communities. People from the region of Gujarat, on the other hand, celebrate new year's day soon after Deepavali, the festival of lights which falls on the new moon day between mid-October and mid-November. Hindus generally follow a lunar calendar which is adjusted to the solar (hence their claim that they follow a luni-solar calendar), and so, while the dates of many festivals change every year, like those of Passover, they will come about the same time. Over the centuries, however, some communities have celebrated new year's day in conjunction with the solar calendar, and so while the Ugadi and the Festival of Lights may change by as much as three to four weeks, the mid-April new year's day, which is called the "solar new year" does not change except by a day or two.

There are, of course, many reasons given to the celebration of the new year's day at different times of the year. In some areas, it could mark the beginning of a new calendar era established by a monarch in the distant past. Others tie the new year day with seasons -- Ugadi is celebrated on the day after the new moon, which comes close to the vernal equinox in March. Thus, the new year is connected with the new blossoms and fruits of spring. Others, like the people in Cambodia, tie their new year's day in the middle of April with agricultural calendars. Some understand Ugadi to be a time when Brahma (a relatively minor deity in the Hindu pantheon) begins to create the universe. Those who celebrate it in October or November, near the festival of Deepavali, connect the beginning of a new life, a new era, to the story of Rama, an incarnation (avatar) of Lord Vishnu, coming back to rule in the city of Ayodhya after defeating the forces of evil.

New year's day is a time for domestic and temple festivities. Houses are cleaned and decorated with rangolis -- beautiful geometric designs made of rice flour and colored powders in mandala formations -- in courtyards and thresholds. In temples, the almanac for the new year, along with the dates for major events, is read out loud; the audience is the deity and the devotees. People from Maharashtra and Konkan may erect a staff of righteousness (dharma dhwaj) outside their houses. This is a bamboo stick with an inverted jar at the end of it which is decorated with flowers and mango leaves. For some, this is a banner of dharma or righteousness; for others, it could be symbolic of a human spine and head, the sensitive areas of yogic energy.

read more

Usher in the New Year

Although the Indian National Calendar is the official calendar for the Hindus, regional variants still prevail. As a result, we have a host of new year festivities that are unique to the particular regions on this vast country. Characteristic of the Indian cultural mélange, Hindus in various states of India celebrate the new year in their own ways. And not all of these fall on the same day!

The Hindus of Kashmir start their new year - Navreh - in mid March. At the same time, the southern Indian states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh begin their new year - Ugadi. The Marathas celebrate their new year Gudi Padwa, and the Sindhis observe Cheti Chand, the coming of new year, during the same time. Usually, the Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Kashmiri and Sindhi New Year falls on the same day - the first day of the month of Chaitra, heralding the advent of spring.

The Telugu and the Kannada New Year falls on the first day of the month of Chaitra (March-April). People in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka states in the South of India believe that Lord Brahma began the creation of the universe on this auspicious day of Ugadi. People prepare for the new year by cleaning and washing their houses and buying new clothes. On the Ugadi day they decorate their houses with mango leaves and "rangoli" designs, and pray for a prosperous new year, and visit the temples to listen to the yearly calendar - "Panchangasravanam" as priests make predictions for the coming year. Ugadi is also an auspicious day to embark on any new endeavor.

read more