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Welcome to the year of love and plenty

South Indians mark New Year this fortnight

Tamilians all over the world will celebrate Tamil New Year Day on Thursday April 14.

Their first month of the Year commences on ‘Chittirai,’ which usually corresponds to Mid-April to Mid-May. Sri Lankans, including Sinhalese and Tamils will also celebrate the Sinhala and Tamil New Year Day on April 14, 2016.

People from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka will mark ‘Ugadi,’ their (Telugu and Kannada) New Year on Friday, April 8, 2016.

Kerala Hindus will celebrate ‘Vishu’ on April 14, marking the ‘Malayali New Year.’

Auspicious Day

Tamilians begin their New Year’s Day exchanging ‘Puthandu Vazthukkal’ greetings, and perform Poojas at home and in Temples. The day is declared as Public Holiday in Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka and Mauritius.

In traditional homes, children are woken up to see ‘Kanni,’ (which Malayalis call, ‘Vishu Kanni,’) that such sightings (of gold, jewellery, leaves, nuts, fruits, vegetables, flowers, raw rice and coconut) will bring prosperity throughout the year.

Floors near entrances to homes are decorated with ‘Kolam’ (Rangoli) while the main doors will feature strings of Mango leaves. The real meaning behind these was to keep away, insects and toxic materials, now accepted by modern science.

Tamil Nadu Festivities

Fairs, exhibitions, and cultural programmes are held in various parts of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. A grand Temple Chariot (Temple Car) is taken out in procession in many parts of the world including Singapore, Sri Lanka and other major cities on this day. The most popular among these is the ‘Temple Car Festival’ held at Tiruvarur in Tamil Nadu.

The Mighty Chariot

Tiruvarur is known for Sri Thyagaraja Temple, whose Chariot (weighing 300 tonnes and measuring 90 feet) is the tallest in the State. The town is the birthplace of Thyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Shyama Sastry, respected as the ‘Trinity of Carnatic Music’ of the 18th Century.

Other major events in the State include the Car Festival at Tiruvadamarudur near Kumbakonam, the marriage of Goddess Meenakshi (Parvati) to Lord Sundareswarar (Lord Shiva) marking the ‘Chittirai Festival.’

Sidereal Calendar

The Tamil Calendar is a sidereal Hindu calendar used by Tamilians all over the world.

It is used today for cultural, religious and agricultural events. Based on the classical Hindu Lunar Calendar, it is used in Assam, Kerala, Manipur, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan and West Bengal in India and in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand and many other countries with a large Indian population.

The Tamil New Year follows the ‘Nirayanam’ vernal equinox generally falls on April 14 of the Gregorian year. Tropical vernal equinox falls around March 22, and adding 23 degrees of trepidation or oscillation to it, we get the Hindu sidereal or ‘Nirayana Mesha Sankranti (Sun’s transition into ‘Nirayana’ Aries).

The Hindu Calendar recognises a 60-year Cycle, observed in China as well.

It is related to five revolutions of Jupiter according to popular belief, or to 60-year orbit of ‘Nakshatras’ (Stars) as mentioned in Surya Siddhanta.

Tamil New Year 2016 correspond to Kaliyuga 5118 and some astrologers also use the ‘Vikrama’ and ‘Shalivahana Saka’ eras.

Nakkirar, author of ‘Nedunalvaadai’ wrote in the 3rd Century that the Sun travels from Mesha (Chittirai) through 11 successive Rasis or signs of the Zodiac.

Kūdalūr Kizhaar in the same Century referred to Mesha Rasi/Chittirai as the commencement of the year in ‘Puranaanooru.’

‘Tolkaapiyam,’ the oldest surviving Tamil Grammar that divides the year into six seasons marks the start of the Ilavenil season or summer.

The Hindu Century

After the completion of 60 years, the Calendar starts again with the first year.

This corresponds to the Hindu ‘Century.’ It is related to the position of the planets in the sky with respect to earth. It means that the two major planets Saturn (or Sani, which takes 30 years to complete one cycle round the Sun) and the Jupiter (Guru, which takes 12 years to complete one cycle round the Sun) come to the same position after 60 years.

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