New Year’s celebration is an important occasion all around the globe; it provides us with fresh starts and new beginnings, a chance to reinvent ourselves and go forth better than what we once were. India, being a melting pot of various cultures and customs, has created plenty of New Year traditions and customs; each unique to a different state. Let’s have a further look at the novel New Year traditions for good luck that each state has adopted for their own.
The Keralite New Year; the Vishu festival signifies the beginning of the spring equinox and usually falls in the month of April. Malayalis celebrate this occasion with abundant fervor. They believe that the first thing you see in the morning affects the rest of your year and for this reason create a “Vishukkani”. A “Vishukkani” is a collection of objects that are supposed to represent happiness, luck, and goodwill. This includes yellow flowers, money, gold, fruits, and sweets; all placed before idols of various gods. The Vishukkani is created the day before and on the day itself, children are blindfolded when they wake up and led to the Vishukkani. People also wear new clothes on this day to symbolize new beginnings.
This festival has its roots in 3 southern states however it is most commonly referred to as the Telugu New Year. Marking the commencement of the new year; people usually prepare for this festival by cleaning out their houses and purchasing new clothes. On the day itself, they adorn their houses with mango leaves and rangolis. Poojas are held and prayers are recited for good health and prosperity. Kavi Sammelans i.e. poetry recitals have also become a common accompaniment to the new year’s celebration.
The Marathi New Year is also a springtime harvest festival celebrated by Konkanis and Maharashtrians alike. The day is held in high regard as it is believed to be the day that Lord Brahma created the universe. The Maharashtrians’ New Year traditions for good luck include the unfurling of a brightly colored cloth attached to a stick (Gudi means flag) that is also decorated with neem leaves and garlands kept outside the household.
The Punjabis sure know how to hold a New Year’s party. Baisakhi is considered to be the largest harvest festival celebrated in North India. It marks the beginning of the Sikh New Year. On this auspicious day, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs brought into being the Khalsa Panth sect. The festival calls for lots of fun, merrymaking and good times. The people of Punjab celebrate by going to Gurudwaras and sharing Kada Prasad with friends and family. The traditional ritual of Kar Sewa is carried out as well (offering your time in terms of physical labor to help out in the daily chores performed in the Gurudwara).
The Tamilian New Year commences mid-April and is celebrated on the first day of the month of the Tamil calendar, Chithirai. Early in the morning, the women of the household decorate the entrance to their home with a colorful Kolam(a variation of the Rangoli) pattern. In the center of the Kolam, a lamp is placed; this symbolizes light dispelling away the darkness.
The spring festival of Bohag Bihu is celebrated mid-April as it is the beginning of agriculture season. It is one of the most important festivals of Assam and lasts for seven days where each day holds significance. This New Year’s celebration is honored by the people waking up early and bathing in a paste of urad dal and turmeric, wear their new clothes and seek blessings from the elders in their family.
One of the biggest and most important Bengali festivals also happens to be a national holiday in Bangladesh. Cultural performances like a poetry reading, singing, and dramatic performances, and sitting down with your family for a traditional meal are some intrinsic parts of the festival. The men and women also change into traditional attire and dance and sing along to classical Bengali tunes.
The Gujarati New Year is celebrated with pomp and splendor. Celebrated in the month of October the day after Diwali, this day is celebrated to honor Lord Krishna. According to the tales of old Lord Krishna performed the Govardhan Pooja alongside the citizens of Vraja for their safeguard against heavy rains.
One of the oldest festivals celebrated by the people of Sikkim; it is celebrated in the month of December and signifies the end of the harvest season. The farmers celebrate their bountiful harvests. The festival is mostly observed privately amongst family members and close friends; however, there is an air of joy and festivity all around. One of the highlights of this festival is the Black Hat dance that rejoices at the triumph of good over evil.
The Kashmiri lunar New Year’s celebrations and traditions include the customary practice of filling a thali with unhusked rice and bread, a small portion of yoghurt, candy, some salt, a 10Rs note, some flowers, a pen and a mirror and a panchang book (a book that keeps track of all the important days and dates according to Kashmiri tradition) the night before. On the day itself, you have to make sure it is the first thing you see in the morning
The Islamic New Year commences on the first day of Muharram (the first month in the Islamic calendar) and varies according to the lunar calendar. The day’s name comes from the emigration of the prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina (the journey is referred to as Hijrah). Muslims pray and fast and look upon the month as one of self-reflection and improvement.
The Sindhi New Year is celebrated to commemorate the memory and birthday of the Sindhi patron saint Jhulelal; a man that performed miracles and provided justice to the oppressed Sindhis by overcoming their oppressors. Several cultural events and poojas like Chaliho Saheb, Baharana Sahib etc. are held to honor his memory.
New Year’s is celebrated in multiple different ways; however, the one thing they all have in common is a friend, family, and loved ones. A New Year’s party does not have to be one that you get all dolled up for; it can also be a quiet evening in with the people that matter most to you. In the end, as long as you are surrounded by the ones that care for you, you’re welcoming in the New Year the right way.