The Tamil New Year is commemorated on the first day of the Hindu Solar Calendar. Commonly known as Puthandu, the Tamil New Year is celebrated with festivities in Hindu homes and the entrances to the houses are decorated beautifully with kolams, designs made using colored rice powder. Every year in the month of Chithrai, which is the first month according to the Hindu calendar, Tamil New Year is celebrated with much happiness and enthusiasm. The Tamil New Year is celebrated after the vernal equinox and it usually occurs on April 14 of the Gregorian Year.
The Tamil New Year is an event that calls for celebration for all the Tamilians around the world. These people, from different spheres of society, come forward to celebrate the day together. This is believed to be the day when Brahma (The Creator of the world, according to Hindu mythology) started the art. People exchange wishes by saying “Puthandu Vazthukal‘ (Happy New Year) with great warmth on this day.
The Tamilians begin the day with ‘kanni’ (the auspicious sight) at dawn. They believe that starting the New Year by looking at propitious things will bring good luck all through the year. So they decorate the large trays with auspicious things like jewelry, betel leaves, dry fruits, fruits, flowers, raw rice, and coconuts. Then the people take a ritual bath, wear new clothes and visit the temple to pray for a healthy and prosperous New Year. After offering their prayers, people read the Panchangam (almanac).
During the celebrations, women decorate the entrance to their houses with beautiful ‘kolams’ (design made with rice flower), and embellish the doorway with mango leaves as the leaves are auspicious. Every year on Tamil New Year day, a grand car festival is held at Tiruvadamarudur near Kumbakonam. Also, people celebrate the marriage of Goddess Meenakshi to Lord Sundareswarar, which is celebrated as Chitthirai Festival.
The pinnacle of the Puthandu Festival is the ‘Maanga Pachadi‘ (a cuisine made from raw mangoes, jaggery, and neem leaves), which tastes sour, sweet and bitter, all at the same time. This mixed flavor signifies the various outlooks of our lives.