New year

The Sinhala and Tamil New Year

The month of April is a time of much celebration as the Sinhalese and Tamils gather to rejoice their new year. “Suba Aluth Avurudhak veva” in Sinhalese and “Puthaandu nal vaalthukkal” in Tamil mean “Happy New Year” and it is certainly a wonderful site to see people greet each other with these words on this special day. This day marks the end of the harvest season and it is believed by the Sinhalese that this day begins at a time determined by astrological signs and unlike the western tradition, the ending of the old year, and the beginning of the new year occur several hours apart from one another and this period is, aptly enough, referred to as the nona gathe (neutral period). During this time people are encouraged to refrain from material pursuits, and engage solely in religious activities and traditional games.

Once the New Year has begun it is tradition to clean the house and light the oil lamp in every family. In the Sinhalese community the women congregate to play upon on the “rabane” (drum) to warn others of the budding of the New Year. “Kiribath” or milk rice and “Kaung” or cake and “Kokis” a spicy item are the most popular foods during this time and every household will have them prepared to be served for friends, neighbors and relatives.

All in all the new year period is one of the best times to visit Sri Lanka and participate in traditions that are still followed brought down from centuries before.



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