Let New Year usher in everlasting peace and eternal prosperity
Amidst the divisive strains that have emerged in the political life
of our people recently the Sinhala and Tamil New Year reminds us a
forgotten message. In fact, this New Year emphasises the underlying
oneness of our society.
It reflects the homogeneity of thought and tradition that binds those
born in our soil whether they live in North or in South. A common mood
of festivity of goodwill and of generosity, the nearness of their
astrological timings, the parallels in ritualistic observances, all
confirms deeply rooted historical associations.
Hindu women decorate the floor with kolam
These bonds show themselves large enough to establish a common
allegiance, a common identity with the land of their birth.
This New Year which is universally observed generally includes rites
and ceremonies that are the expression of mortification, purgation,
invigoration and jubilation over life's renewal. Furthermore, renewals
mark the course of life in nature and in human existence.
The survival of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year through long periods
of colonialism and Westernization testifies to the strength of natural
characters in this country. It establishes the depth and durability of
an indigenous culture. It bears witness to the long traditions that grew
out of Lanka's own ancient civilization.
"Pudhu Varudam" or New Year which marks the Hindu solar New Year
beginning on the first of the Tamil month of Chittirai. New Year is
indeed an auspicious occasion for the Hindus. In Punjab, Haryana, Assam,
Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Nepal, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia
and Laos too, this day is celebrated as the New Year.
Further, from time immemorial the Hindus have considered the
transition of the sun as an auspicious event, for the sun is the
presiding deity of the planetary system and the entry from pisces, the
last house in the Zodiac to Aries, the first house is significant
marking the beginning of the New Year.
The Hindu Alamanac known as the "Panchaangam" substantiated by
astronomical calculations gives us the exact time of the dawn of the New
In fact, the month of April also marks the birth of Spring. Even in
the Sangam classics there are references to the joyous activities of
spring. The great epics "Silappadikaram" gives a vivid description of
The Lord Indira referred to in Silappadikaram and associated with
festival of this nature. Lord Indira is considered to be a God or
protection and in view of these favourable factors, the Hindus have
counted upon "Siththirai" (April) as the first month of the Year.
On the New Year day, the Hindus, particularly the women get up early
in the morning and annrint themselves, apply a Maruthu Neer (Herbal
water) obtained usually from Kovils and have a bath during Punni Kalam
(auspicious time). They wear new clothes and go to temples for worship.
In temples, the bells ring loudly heralding the birth of the New
Year. The cuckoo peals the dawn of the melodious birth of Spring with
The gentle dawn breeze embraces everyone and instils a sense of new
hope and confidence.
In the homes, milk rice is cooked with jaggery and offered to the sun
or the Gods. The poor are treated with lavish meals. The workers,
relatives and neighbours join in merry-making. The first handling of
money is done at the auspicious time.
This is called "Kaiveshesham" and is always received from good
hearted people. It is also considered to be a lucky transaction and one
looks forward to an Year of plenty and prosperity.
To the young, particularly the children, it is a day of sport and
fun. They enjoy themselves wearing new clothes and lighting of crackers.
The youth enjoy themselves with "Porthenkai" (crushing of coconuts).
This sport is said to have come to the Tamil Nadu from Greece when there
was brisk Greece-Roman trade.
The young girls engage themselves in games like swinging etc. In the
evening dance and music recitals are organised in the principal villages
and towns. Indeed, this New Year festival is significant to one and all
since everyone is endeavouring to bring about peace, ethnic harmony and
reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
Of the many festivals observed indifferent parts of the Hindu World
New Year has been one in which all the people in every village or town
to whatever class of society they belong await with great eagerness. The
arrival of New Year fills are with great happiness. Goodwill, happiness
and a sense of expectancy fills the air and the hearts of the Hindus and
In fact, New Year is observed with great reverence, devotion, a sense
of duty and loving kindness towards all, stimulating society, enlivening
the nation and fostering national consciousness.
Indeed, New Year is a festival of freedom, peace, unity and
compassion crystallised in the last hymn on unity in the Indian
spiritual text the Rig Veda:- "Let your aim be one and single, let your
heart be joined in one, the mind at rest in unison at peace with all, so
you may be".
Hence on this great and glorious occasion of New Year, our paramount
duty is to resist disintegration by strengthening the forces of
Let us not forget that Sri Lanka has a vision and mission.
It should set an example to men everywhere to eschew violence and
hatred and to tread the path of peace, love and compassion.
Sri Lanka which was described by great men as "Pearl of the Indian
Ocean", "the paradise isle of the East", "the island in the sun" is
passing through the more critical and crucial period in history. As
such, the need of the hour is profound and abiding love for the country
and greater sacrifice for the sake of our children, the future
Peace and prosperity
As we commit ourselves to the ceremonies of cleaning and renewal,
caring and sharing and usher in New Year, may our ethnic problem be
sorted out so that we may work towards building a society where
everlasting peace, and eternal prosperity prevail in our lovely island
On this New Year day let me conclude with the soul stirring words of
the great Poet Rabindranath Tagore - "Where the mind is without fear and
the head is held high; Where knowledge is free; Where the world has not
been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls Where words come
out from the depth of truth; Where tireless striving stretches its arms
towards perfection; Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its
way into the dreamy desert sand of dead habit; Where the mind is led
forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action; Into that Heaven
of Freedom, my Father, let my country awake".