Baisakhi, Bihu, Vishu, Poila Boishakh, Puthandu: What The New Years Of India Mean
Here's a look at how people celebrate their New Years...
Baisakhi: Harvest Festival Of Punjab
On this day, Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of Sikhs, asked people to follow Sikhism in 1699, and the Khalsa community was formed.
The northern states of Punjab, Haryana and parts of Delhi celebrate this day with much fanfare. People get together, and perform bhangda and gidda on traditional folk songs and dhol. Men show off their gatka skills (traditional form of martial-arts of the Sikh.)
The Sikh community also observes it as the day of thanksgiving for abundant harvest, and pray for future prosperity.
Vishu: Malayalam New Year
The festival of lights and fireworks is celebrated in Kerala, and parts of Karnataka. People decorate their houses with diyas and lights, and burst firecrackers (locally called Vishupadakkam). The traditions of Vishu include the first auspicious view of the festive day (called Vishukkani Kazhcha), buying of new clothes for the occasion (called Puthukodi), giving money which is the first gift of the year (called Vishukkaineetam) and the feast consisted of food items that taste salty, sweet, sour and bitter (called Sadya).
The ritual arrangement (called Vishukkani) made on this auspicious day in the prayer room of the house includes a list of items that bring prosperity - rice, fruits, vegetables, betel leaves, arecanut, metal mirror, yellow flowers (called konna), holy texts and coins. The items are arranged a night before Vishu and is the first sight of Lord Vishnu on Vishu.
Devotees throng the Sabarimala Ayyappan and the Guruvayur temples to see the 'Vishukkani Kazhcha' during the Brahma Muhurtha, around 3.30 am.
Bihu: Harvest Festival Of Assam
On the day of Bohag Bihu, various delicacies like Mangsho, Chira and Pitha are made. Women, men and children are seen singing, feasting, exchanging gifts, seeking blessings from elders, wearing new clothes, and performing the traditional Bihu dance on this day.
Puthandu: Tamil New Year
The celebrations of Puthandu resonate to that of Vishu. The night before the auspicious day, a tray full of fruit, betel leaves, gold ornaments, silver jewellery, money/cash/coins and flowers are put together in the prayer room for the Lord to view as the first thing.
It is believed that the first view of these auspicious things brings happiness and prosperity for the rest of the year.
Poila Boishakh: Bengali New Year
People decorate their houses with rangoli in their courtyards made with a paste of rice and water (called alpona).
Families get together on this auspicious day, and celebrate the new year with Bengali folk songs and dances in traditional attires. Small gatherings are held where children and adults take part in various activities like drawing/painting, dancing, poetry recitation, singing, etc.