Tamil New Year Day or Varusha Pirappu or Tamil Puthandu is an important Hindu Tamil festival celebrated by Tamil speaking Hindus. Puthandu marks the Tamil New Year’s Day and is celebrated in the beginning of Chithirai – the first month in the Tamil Calendar year. The auspicious occasion of Puthandu is also popularly known as Varusha Pirappu or the birth of New Year and falls on 13th or 14th April according to the Gregorian Calendar. Tamilans all over the world celebrate Puthandu as the day when Lord Brahma – Hindu God of Creation started creation and celebrate Varusha Pirappu in a big way by merrymaking and feasting.
On the other hand, Vishu is the new year day according to Kollam calendar system and the Malayalam speaking people also celebrate this day as Chaitra Vishu (harvest festival of Kerala). In north eastern India Vishu is also called as Bisu.
Puthandu Rituals & Celebrations
Tamilans celebrate Varusha Pirappu by following specific traditions and rituals. Early in the morning, womenfolk adorn the entrance of their house with colorful Kolam patterns. Centre of the Kolam is decorated with a lamp called kuthuvillakku in a belief that it would dispel darkness. It is also customary to pay visit to temple and invoke divine blessings for the coming year.
They follow some strict rituals in a belief to ensure well-being and prosperity of their families. The most popular tradition is to view Kanni at dawn with a hope to bring good luck. People start the day by watching some auspicious items like gold and silver jewelery, betel leaves, nuts, fruits and vegetables, flowers, raw rice and coconuts. This is done under the belief that a good start to New Year will ensure prosperity and happiness in the coming year. Following the rituals, Tamils take bath, wear fresh clothes and visit the temples to pray for success in life. The Hindu temples make elaborate arrangements for ‘Panchanga Patanam’ or astrological prediction of the Tamil new year from the new year panchangam. In some temples there will be festivals, processions, lectures and music events.
Many people get their houses painted to mark the renewal of life. Ladies adorn their houses with fresh mango leaves and Kolam (rangoli) designs. Sometimes, a decorated lamp kuthuvillakku is placed in the center of colorful Kolam to bring light to the house.
To mark the occasion of Tamil New Year people wear new clothes. The lunch on the Tamil New year day will have special menu item called ‘pachadi’, jaggery and neem flowers to signify different aspects of life. This pachadi dish will highlight six tastes – Astringent, Bitter, Pungent, Salty, Sour and Sweet. People will feed the poor and may also offer new dresses. People also visit friends and dear ones to exchange greetings for New Year – ‘Puthandu Vazthukal’. Youngsters are particularly excited about Puthandu as they receive small gifts from all their elders.
Astrological Aspect in Tamil Varusha Pirappu
Tamil astrology and the Tamil calendar (Panchangam or almanac) is the most ancient system. It is one of the variants of Vedic Hindu astrology /Vedic Hindu Calendar. The calendar system is noted for its nirayana system. Western calendars follow sayana system. Tamil astrology system has years in 60 year cycle and they are assigned with specific names not numbers.
There are 12 months in the Tamil calendar system and they are also assigned with specific Tamil names. The first month is Chithirai and the twelfth month is Panguni. And the list are as follows:
The Tamil sidereal astrology system has 27 constellations aligned with the 12 zodiac signs. The constellations are further divided into 108 mansions (padams). The horoscope chart developed using the Tamil Calendar will identify three important planets as ruler or king (Raja), the minister (Manthri) and the commander (Senathipathy or Mekathipathy or Arkathipathy) for the new Tamil New year.