Varsha Pirappu, Festival of Tamil Nadu, South India

Puthandu, populary known as Varsha pirappu, is the New Year’s Day for the people of Tamil Nadu in Southern India. It marks the beginning of the Dravidian New Year in Tamil Nadu. This festival is held on the first day of Tamil month Chithiram, which usually falls on the 14th of April. It is believed that Lord Brahma, (the God of creation, according to Hindu mythology) began creating the world on this day. This festival is celebrated with traditional gaiety and enthusiasm all over Tamil Nadu.

On the occasion of Tamil New Year day, Hindus believe that offering special prayers in the temple brings them prosperity. It is also the day to give an auspicious start to the coming year by looking at all nice and wonderful things such as gold, fresh fruits, vegetables, rice, betel leaves, nuts and coconuts, which are kept in a decorated pile in front of the garlanded deity. The focus is on prosperity throughout the year, and a prayer of thanks to the gods.

Varsha pirappu begins with viewing the Kani of the auspicious things. Early in the morning on Tamil New Year’s day, the entrance of the house is decorated with Kolam (Rangoli), a design made with rice flour. The doorways are decorated with mango leaves to mark the auspiciousness of the occasion. After an early ritual bath, the whole family prays together. The children take the blessings of their parents.

A special dish called ‘Maanga Pachadi’, made of raw mangoes, jaggery and neem flowers is served during lunch. This signifies all the different aspects of our life, reminding us to face happiness and sorrow with equal ease . Since this festival marks the beginning of the New Year, food prepared is very special, with particular emphasis on pulses and cereals.

The family together enjoys the special lunch. The rest of the day is spent visiting various relatives, friends and exchanging New Year greetings. Gifts are also given to domestic workers and others.

A large number of devotees wait in queues from dawn at temples especially temples such as Meenakshi temple in Madurai, Manakkula Vinayagar Temple in Puducherry etc. to have a darshan.

On this auspicious day, a grand Car Festival is held at Tiruvadamarudur near Kumbakonam. Festivals are also held at Tiruchirapalli, Kanchipuram and many other places. Several fairs and cultural programs are also organised at different places all over the state, to mark the occasion.

On the same day, New Year is celebrated in some other parts of India, too.

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