THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: India is a vast country, with an overwhelming population and an enchanting merger of cultures. The country has always had a unique connection between nature and its heritage, traditions, culture and architecture.
Though India's diversity can be seen in a variety of aspects such as religions, languages, food habits, clothes and so on, it is a fascinating to see that many individuals, belonging to such different creed, culture and beliefs altogether, celebrate the first day of the new year according to the respective zodiac calendars of their region. Quite interestingly, all of them comes around the same time in April.
The natives of Kerala celebrate this as their New Year. In Sanskrit, Vishu means 'Equal'. In mythology, this is also the day on which Lord Sri Krishna killed the demon Narakasura, therefore celebrating his victory. On an auspicious day, as the custom demands, each person would wake up to a splendid sight of 'Vishukani.'
The spring festival 'Bohag Bihu' is celebrated as the beginning of the season for agriculture. Bihu that marks the Assamese new year also called as Rongali Bihu. It is also regarded as a fertility festival, where the Bihu dance involving sensuous movements using the hips, arms, etc., by the young women symbolises the celebration of their fertility.
It is the biggest harvest festival celebrated across North Indian states, especially in Punjab. It is also celebrated as the day of the formation of the Sikh Khalsa. The main celebration takes place at the birthplace of the Khalsa and at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
Baisakhi is also an ancient festival of Punjabis, their traditional Solar New Year and celebration of the spring harvest. Sweet dishes like Kara pasand and sweetened semolina are distributed during the event.
The Nabo Barsho of Bengal is celebrated with a great deal of enthusiasm and energy during the mid of April. This is the day of cultural programs, shopping, prayers and also considered as an auspicious time for marriages. Pohela Boishakh is celebrated by tribal people in hilly areas of Tripura also.
People traditionally visit their relatives, friends and neighbours to share the happiness of the festivity.
The traditional Tamil new year starts on mid-April or the first day of Tamil month Chithirai. Chittirai Thiruvizha is famously celebrated in the Madurai Meenakshi Temple. The main delicacy of this festival is Mangai Pachadi, made of raw mangoes, jaggery and neem flowers. People wear new clothes to celebrate it with hope for new opportunities and success in their lives.
Pana Sankranti, also known as Maha Bisuba Sankranti, is the traditional new year day festival of Buddhists and Hindus in Odisha. The festival date is set with the solar cycle of the lunisolar calendar.
Communities participate in fairs, watch street dances or acrobatic performances. A notable climax of the social celebrations is fire-walk, where volunteers sprint over a bed of burning coal while being cheered with music and songs.
It is the Marathi term that replicates the concept of Chaitra Shukla Pratipada or the first day of the Chaitra month. As per the famous tradition, the Maharashtrian homes display a conventional arrangement called Gudi in front of their homes from which the event Gudi Padwa gets its name.
The day starts with the eating of neem extract mixed with jaggery and tamarind. The other highlights of the day include eating dishes like Shrikhand and Puran Poli.
Ugadi ushers in celebration and festivities in the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana. For the people of these states, Ugadi symbolises the beginning of the New Year as per the Hindu calendar, which falls during the month of April.
According to popular beliefs, Ugadi has an age-old association with mythology. Legend has it that Lord Brahma began the creation of the universe on the Ugadi day.