Festival to integrate Indian New Year observances in Hamilton

 

Venkat Raman
Auckland, April 10, 2023

A single event for multiple observances will be at the core of the Waikato Indian New Year Mela scheduled to be held in Hamilton on April 15, 2023.

Organised by the Indian Cultural Society Waikato, the event will be held from 5.30 pm at the Waikato Indian Association Hall, located at 82 Duke Street, Frankton.

Society President Jujhar Singh Randhawa said that the event will celebrate New Year festivals of Vaisakhi, Vishu, Puthandu, Ugadi, Bihu, Poila Baisakh, Maha Vishuba, Jur Sital, Aluth Avurudda that are marked in different States and Regions of India.

“The Indian New Year Mela, the first of its kind in Hamilton, will showcase traditional cultural performances from around the region along with ethnic food stalls. Everyone is welcome and entry is free and open to all,” he said.

“The performances will include Bharata Natyam, Kathakali, Garba, Dandiya Raas, Goan dance, Cumbia Dance, Bollywood Dances, the Chinese Moon dance, Sikh Martial Arts (Gatka), traditional Belly Dance and the vibrant Bhangra, Giddha and many other items. The evening will start with the lighting of the traditional lamp,” he said.

Mr Randhawa said that his Society has invited several other organisations and the Indian Diaspora to join us on this special occasion.

“Indian Cultural Society (Waikato) Inc was formed in 1990 and is one of the older organisations that initiated the celebration of the Diwali Festival in Hamilton. The Society continues the tradition and now we are starting the Indian New Year Festival. The Society aims to foster the advancement of Indian tradition, language and literature and promote and develop multiculturalism within the NZ society,” he said.

He said the Programme will include cultural performances from professionals in and around Hamilton and Auckland.

New Year Diversity

It is not uncommon for visitors to India amused and confused over the number of days on which New Year is celebrated through an eight-week period.

With diverse cultural, social and religious overtones, it is little surprise that a New Year dawns on different days in a year.

Public holidays also differ between states.

The following is a glimpse of New Year festivities observed by the people of India.

With the spread of the Indian Diaspora, it is not surprising that each of these festivities is marked all over the world and happily, as well as Indians, members of local communities also join in the festivities at homes and other public places.

Nau Roz: The Kashmiri New Year’s Day falls in March or April. It is a day of general festivity and rejoicing throughout the state.

Goru Bihu (Assam): The Goru Bihu or the ‘Cattle Festival’ is celebrated on the Hindu New Year’s Day. On this day, the cattle are bathed and decorated. They are smeared with turmeric and are treated with gur (jaggery) and brinjals.

Baisakhi (April or May): Baisakhi or Vaisakhi is the first day of the month of Vaisakha, the beginning of the Hindu Year in some parts of the country. A holy bath in a river, tank or well is an important feature of the day’s observance. For Sikhs, this day has a particular significance, as it was on this day in 1699 that Guru Gobind Singh founded the Khalsa.

Naba Barsha The Bengali New Year’s Day begins with ‘Prabhat Pheries,’ (early morning processions), songs and dance. A dip in a river or a lake is another essential feature of the day’s ritual. With powdered rice, women make beautiful designs called ‘Alpana’ on the floor.

Gudi Padwa (March or April): This is the New Year’s Day for the people of Maharashtra, a day of great festivity and rejoicing.

Ugadi (Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, March or April): New Year’s Day marks the beginning of a new Hindu Lunar Calendar with a change in the moon’s orbit. It is a day when mantras are chanted and predictions are made for the New Year.

Puthandu: On Tamil New Year’s Day, which is observed in April, a big Car Festival is held at Tiruvadamarudur near Kumbakonam. Festivals are also held at Tiruchirappalli, Kanchipuram and many other places.

Vishu (April or May): The people of Kerala celebrate ‘Vishu,’ the New Year of the Malayalam Calendar. It is characterised in Malayali homes, by the ‘first sighting’ (‘Vishukkani’) of auspicious articles ceremoniously placed before a lamp. Elders give cash presents to dependents and relatives younger than them. This is called ‘Kaineettam’ (extending the hand).

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