“A year has departed
A new has started
All have awaited
For a festival elated
Mistakes are corrected
Good deeds are committed
The crops are harvested
For a tradition that brings a Nation together!”
‘Aluth Avurudda’ one of the biggest celebrations in Sri Lanka starts on 13th of April and ends in 14th of April that features lots of rituals and customs is one of the must things to experience.
Based on the movement of the sun from Meena Rashiya (House of Pisces) to the Mesha Rashiya (House of Aries) marks the end of the harvest season, Sri Lankans welcome the New Year in April with lots of rituals, fireworks and gourmet of traditional sweets.
The Sun festival or the Sinhala and Tamil New Year is a ritual performed to honor the Sun God for hundreds and hundreds of years, comes with a long history that is not experienced anywhere else.
The unique rituals and the traditions are what make the New Year special.
Neutral Period (Nonagathaya)
The New Year ritual starts from the neutral period where people keep off from all work and engage in religious activities to get the blessings to prepare for the New Year.
Lighting the hearth (Lipa gini melaweema)
With the dawn of the New Year comes the first ritual, the lighting of the hearth of the house to prepare milk rice to symbolize the prosperity.
First meal at the New Year table (Ahara anubawaya)
Food plays a major role in the New Year celebration at each house. A table with kiribath (milk rice), bananas, kevum, kokis, aggala, aasmi, aluwa, welithalapa, and many other traditional sweets become the centerpiece of any table. Every family that celebrates New Year enjoys the festival at the auspicious time after lighting an oil lamp.
Starting work and exchanging money (Weda alleema saha ganu denu)
Once the family finishes the New Year meal, they engage in some work to symbolize starting their work for the New Year. Next they perform a transaction among the family members and other respected parties. This also done with the well to thank it for the clear water provided the past year.
Anointing oil (Hisa thel gaama)
Oil prepared according to a special mixture of herbs are anointed on people’s heads to bless them with health and healing. This ritual is usually done by a religious leader, a family head or an elder superior in the village.
New Year sweets.
You cannot speak about the Sinhala and Tamil New Year without having to talk about food. These are some of the sweets prepared at almost all households during this time and shared amongst the families and friends to extend friendship or to forget any mishap during the past year.
Konda kewum – Made with coconut trickle and rice flour and deep fried.
Aasmi – A crunchy traditional sweet topped with traditional caramel syrup.
Kokis – Fried, crispy sweet made from rice flour and coconut milk.
Mung kewum – A diamond shaped sweet with a crunchy crust and a sweet paste of green gram inside.
Avurudu music and games
This is a season that’s focused on family. During this time people return home to celebrate the festival with the rest of the family. Fun games and activities play an important part at this time.
Playing the rabana (A large drum people sit around and play)
Traditional board games (Olinda keliya, Pancha demima)
Kotta pora (Pillow fight)
Kanamutti bindeema (Breaking the pots)
Kamba adeema (tug-war)
Banis keema (Eating buns)
Lissana gaha (Climbing the greasy pole)
April is perhaps one of the best months in Sri Lanka due to the Sinhala and Tamil New Year festival which cannot be seen anywhere else.