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"Celebrating the new year and harvests in April"
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"Celebrating the new year and harvests in April"

Madusha ErandiSpring is the New Year for many South East Asian countries, writes Madusha Erandi, 21, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Colombo in Sri Lanka, who says celebrating the glamour and traditions of Sri Lanka’s New Year is a way to promote national culture and history.

As Sri Lankans, we could celebrate Sinhala and Hindu New Year in a grand moment from April 13 to 15.  It has been celebrated every year with the intention of achieving mental, social and physical well-being, and to protect our indigenous customs and traditions.

April is the fruitful month and the season of spring in the year – the month that the beauty of nature enhances and shows the comfort of the upcoming new season.

Many of the South East Asian countries celebrate the beginning of spring in mid-April. Tamil New Year is celebrated in Tamil Nadu and is celebrated in Punjab, Nepal and Assam as well. Particularly in Sri Lanka the New Year is celebrated with the harvest festival (in the month of Bak) when the sun moves from the Meena Rashiya (House of Pisces) to the Mesha Rashiya (House of Aries). In general, New Year is celebrated with happiness and glamour in minds and expecting a prosperous future.

We call this season “awurudu Kalaya” and Sri Lankans start preparing in March to celebrate “awurudu” in their best capacities. Whatever the class you belong to or regardless of economic level, you are included all as one family to celebrate Sinhala and Hindu New Year in a glamorous way.  We are happy to let the world know about our indigenous customs and traditions.

As Sinhalese, our main occupation is paddy cultivation. Harvest comes by the Dawn of the April New Year and it is celebrated with happiness. Sinhalese and Hindus believe that in the solar system the sun orbits in twelve houses throughout a year and enters again to the first house as we all call the House of Aries to start a new journey again. Therefore, the new entrance of the sun which happens in every April is considered as the New Year (Awurudu).  That special day is considered as a day which leads the way to a new upbringing in the National and cultural aspects. 

In order to celebrate the dawn of the New Year there are special activities performed in an auspicious time. “Awurudu” day is a unique day to all Sinhalese and Hindus because they follow particular traditions for all their day to day activities like clothing, eating, bathing etc.  Government Issue a traditional timetable only for the New Year season. There are colors specified to wear on that day and people mostly used to wear the traditional clothing in Sri Lanka. There are traditional food items indigenous to the Sri Lankan society, like milk rice, which is made with milk and cooked rice, and oil cakes called Kawum in Sinhalese and many other indigenous foods such as Mun Kawum, aasmi,  Konda Kevum, Kokis, Asmee, Mun Kevum and Athirasa.  In addition, it can be observed that there are sweet items which are particular to different areas.  For example, Unduwel or Pani Walalu and Naran Kevum in Kandy, Kalu Dodol and Mungedi in Dakunu Giruwapattu and Ruhunu Magampattu areas, Kiri Roti and Amara kevum in Sath Koralaya, and Thala or Kaju Aluwa in Nuwara Kalaviya can be especially cited.  In Chillaw area, house-wives used to prepare Meegamu Aluwa for the Awurudu table.  

Apart from all the food items, another lasting tradition is to going to see relatives and neighbors. It emphasizes the idea of friendship, passion of relationships and mutual understanding. Relatives bring gifts for each other and share love and friendship. Elders are given a very special place in the Sinhala and Hindu New Year season. They are respected in great extent and youngsters worship them by giving them Betel leaves (Bulath Ath) It represents the asking for apologies from elders for the wrong deeds the youngsters have done.

Along with all these traditions, there are special games particular to the awurudu season. There are New Year festivals organized and they are filled with all happiness and joy. There are games such as climbing in the slippery tree, and selecting New Year princess and prince to represent our culture.

All these traditions and customs endure since the early times of Sri Lankan history. They exhibit the proud nature of Sri Lankan history, and it’s the duty of Sri Lankans to protect them for future generations.     

 Photo Credit : Madusha Erandi   

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About me: I am determined and ambitious; ready to take up any challenge. A former journalist, I’m studying law at University of Colombo and doing freelance writing. I believe the youth is the fruitful future of any country and the positive anticipation of the developing world.

I love observing people, their nature and writing about them. I am a wannabe photographer. I swim, do athletics, and sing. I consider myself as a genuine social worker. Writing is simply my passion. 

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit:
http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/
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