Indian New Year 2018: How 15 Indian Communities Celebrate Their New Year
Did you enjoy your New Year’s eve and welcome 2018 with a bang? We bet you did. After all, it’s the perfect time to celebrate the year gone by and make fresh resolutions, have newer dreams to pursue. Did you know that New Year is celebrated on January 1 every year because it’s according to the Gregorian calendar? But did you know that there are sections of the society who celebrate their new beginnings on different dates? Intrigued? Read on.
In India, we are blessed with a beautiful blend of communities such as Tamilian, Bengali, Assamese, Maharashtrians, Parsees, and many more. And every community has their own special day when they welcome New Year.
Isn’t that interesting? Indeed, it is.
We always focus on history, while geography matters too. Let’s see how.
If you’re wondering and hunting for a logic behind it, then we’ve an explanation for you. Every community in India observes New Year based on either lunar or solar calendar. As we’ve already welcomed it once based on the Gregorian calendar, let’s now see how we can still be enjoying Indian New Year in 2018 in more unique and traditional ways.
Are you ready and excited to know how different religions/communities in India celebrate their New Year? We’ll proceed by taking your answer as a ‘yes’.
UGADI (18 March 2018)
The Deccan region of India, including Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, celebrates Ugadi – marking the beginning of Chaitra month. It is observed as per lunisolar calendar. Usually, this Hindu New Year falls either in March or April.
So, what is it? Ugadi refers to ‘beginning of new age’. The festive mood is on as people wear new clothes, decorate their homes, enjoy feasts with the family, and pray for wealth and wellbeing in the coming year. A traditional drink is made on Ugadi which combines ingredients offering six different flavours – bitter, sour, spicy, sweet, pungent, and salty. It is called pachada/pachadi.
Did you know these flavours symbolise our emotions?
- Bitter symbolises sadness
- Sweet symbolises happiness
- Sour symbolises surprise
- Spice symbolises fear
- Pungency symbolises anger
- Salt symbolises patience
That’s amazing, isn’t it? And this is how Ugadi is celebrated – signifying life is a mixture of emotions, and we are supposed to move on balancing them. Some traditional dishes relished on the festival of Ugadi are bakshalu, holige, and obbattu.
Let’s learn how this festival is greeted in regional languages.
Telugu – Ugadi panduga subhakankshalu
Kannada – Ugadi habbada shubhashayagalu
GUDI PADWA (18 March 2018)
The western coastal region of India – including Maharashtra, Goa, and Konkan – celebrates Gudi Padwa. For Maharashtrians, the festival symbolises the arrival of spring. As per the lunisolar calendar, it is celebrated on the first day of the lunar fortnight.
Gudi Padwa or the Maharashtrian New Year comes with new dreams and hopes. People wish fulfilment and prosperity for the coming year and enjoy a merry-making ceremony. You can see joyful faces on this day. There are certain mythological stories related to this festival, as mentioned in the Hindu books. For instance, Lord Brahma created our universe and Lord Rama killed Bali on this day. Historically, Chatrapati Shivaji won victory over his rivals on this auspicious day. Truly fascinating!
Traditionally, Gudi Padwa is celebrated with five rituals. Let’s know more about them.
- Holy bath: It’s to cleanse our souls and bodies before we welcome the new dawn.
- Rangoli: It’s a colourful drawing made in the front yard of the house. It welcomes good luck and gets rid of negativity.
- Flowers: Every corner of the house is decorated with flowers, signifying purity and positivity for the coming year.
- Gudi: It refers to a flag. A traditional flag is made with kalash, saree of orange/red cloth, and flowers. It is hoisted at the entrance symbolising prosperity.
- Prasad: Puran poli is prepared and then enjoyed with family and friends.
How is it greeted in Marathi? Here’s how – Nutan varshachya hardik shubhechha.
CHEIRAOBA (18 March 2018)
Cheiraoba is celebrated in Manipur. It is also known as Sajibu Nongma Pānba and Sajibu/Meetei Cheiraoba. The festival usually falls in March or April. It is basically observed on the first day of Sajibu month, according to the lunar calendar.
The term Cheiraoba comes from ‘Chei’ that refers to the year and ‘Raoba’ refers to shouting. It is typically the announcement of New Year in the state. It is believed to be the sacred festival of the Meiteis community of Manipur. However, the celebration involves all, be it Hindus or Muslims or any other communities. This is India after all.
Similar to the other regional New Year celebrations, even Manipur celebrates the day with pomp and show. They follow plenty of rituals and customs on this day. Let’s take a look on how Manipuris welcome their New Year -
- Cleaning of the house: All the houses along with front and backyards are cleaned on this day and decorated. This is usually done one day ahead of New Year.
- First offering: Lunch or first offering ‘de rigeur’, a grand feast is prepared and offered to their deity Lainingthou Sanamahi, early in the morning.
- Second offering: The second offering is made in the front yard and backyard of the house where a certain area is decorated with mud, leaves, and flowers. The eldest male member offers the feast (steamed rice, curry, fruits, flowers, money, candle, and incense stick) to the deities on a leaf.
- Feast: The entire family and relatives enjoy the feast and pray for health and happiness.
- Ching Kaba: Later during the day, everyone climbs a hillock where they pray, roam around, and then come back with joyful faces.
Wonderful traditions we must say. New Year is greeted by saying ‘Cheiraoba Yaifare’ in Manipuri.
NAVREH (28 March 2018)
Navreh is celebrated in Kashmir. It is observed on the first day of Chaitra or the spring season. Or the last day of dark fortnight or Amavasya. This year, the Kashmiri New Year will be celebrated on 28th of March. Navreh in Sanskrit means Nava Varsha.
Did you know, it is believed that the Saptarishi era was started on the very same day? And it was 5000 years ago approximately. That’s terrific! Don’t you think so?
So how do Kashmiri pandits celebrate this holy day of the year? Here’s a brief explanation for you –
One can find the air in Kashmir filled with purity and zeal. On this day, the Kulguru from the family of pundits gets nachipatra or commonly called almanac. One day before Navreh, the pundits take a dip in the holy waters to get away from the impurities. A special Navreh puja thali is decorated on a metal plate with rice, almanac, wye (herb), flowers, ink, and some coins. Finally, on the New Year day, prayers are offered to Devi Shakthi who is manifested here in Chakreshwari form. Prasad is distributed, new clothes are worn, elders give money to the younger generation – overall, there is happiness, harmony, and peace.
And it is greeted as ‘Navreh Mubarak.’
NAVRATRA (18 March 2018)
This particular Navratra is celebrated as Chaitra Navratra for nine days in Jammu, Rajasthan, and other parts of the nation. Don’t confuse this festival as the Dussehra Navratri. The latter is celebrated as Sharad Navratri that falls in September or October every year.
Navratra refers to nine nights; the festival is devoted to Durga Mata who is symbolised as shakti or power. It is an auspicious festival and devotees pray for inner peace and seek blessings from the divine.
Did you know all nine days are devoted to different forms of Durga?
- Day 1: Goddess Shailputri, who symbolises such a power that is equal to that of the trinity
- Day 2: Goddess Brahmacharini, who blesses happiness and peace
- Day 3: Goddess Chandraghanta, who is the symbol of strength
- Day 4: Goddess Kushmanda, who is the creator of the universe
- Day 5: Goddess Skanda, who leads the war against demons
- Day 6: Goddess Katyayani, who symbolises courage
- Day 7: Goddess Kalratri, who protects her children from evil eyes
- Day 8: Goddess Gauri, who is known as a forgiver
- Day 9: Goddess Siddhidatri, who offers good health
In Jammu, Vaishno Devi temple is flocked by devotees from around the nation. They trek for about 13 km to finally reach the mata complex. And in Rajasthan, people indulge in chants and renditions and spend all nine nights performing different traditional rituals.
If you wish to experience a typical North Indian Navratra, then you can either make your way towards Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu or visit any part of Rajasthan and spend all nine days understanding every ritual and performing the age-old traditions. We assure you utmost satisfaction in any way you choose.
It is greeted in Hindi language as – ‘Navratra ki hardik shubhkamnaye.’
CHETI CHAND (19 March 2018)
Cheti Chand refers to the Sindhi New Year which is celebrated in all parts of India. It is an important festival of Sindhi community as they commemorate the birth of their God ‘Saint Jhulelal’. It is observed on the second day of Chaitra month according to the lunar calendar.
Basically, Sindhis offer prayers to the Lord Varuna or God of water. And Jhulelal is believed to be the incarnation of water God. Hence, Cheti Chand marks a special day for Sindhis and they perform many rituals and traditions on this day. The day is also considered as the beginning of a new financial year.
In some parts of India, Sindhi communities take a huge procession and celebrate the festival with beautiful diyas and lamps. This indeed shows their unity. They offer traditional puja, some of them observe fasts, and seek blessings to protect from evils and offer them a peaceful life. Some even perform mundan or tonsure for their newborns on this sacred day.
All Sindhis enjoy and hug each other saying, ‘Cheti Chand Jyon Lakh Lakh Wadayun’.
BAISAKHI (14 April 2018)
The harvest season is considered as a religious and historic one for the Sikhs. This festival is also known as Punjabi New Year and is celebrated mainly in Punjab, Delhi, and other northern and central regions of the nation. It is observed keeping the solar calendar as well as the Gregorian calendar in mind. 14th April is marked as the day of Baisakhi.
It happens to be a lucky day for Sikhs as their tenth Guru founded the Khalsa Panth cult on this day. The Sikh community all over India celebrates Vaisakhi or Baisakhi with excitement and fanfare. It is also considered as a harvest festival of winter or rabi crops. If you want to witness the typical Punjabi spirit and fun, then you will love being in Punjab during this time of the year.
They wear colourful clothes such as patialas, kurta, lungi, pagri, and enjoy giddha and bhangra dance. Some villages organise fairs too where folk dances are performed. People indulge in shopping and feasting and have a gala time overall. People also visit gurudwara with family and seek blessings for a wonderful year ahead.
The Sikh community greets each other in Punjabi by saying, ‘Vaisakhi diyan lakh lakh vadhaiyan’.
RONGALI BIHU (14 April 2018)
Did you know that Bihu is celebrated in Assam three times a year? However, the Assamese New Year is named Rongali Bihu which is observed in the month of April every year. Rong here refers to celebration. Basically, it is the time for farmers to prepare fields for new cultivation of crops.
Well, time for some visualisation. Just imagine pretty ladies of Assam wearing their traditional red attires with a big red bindi and a wide grin on their faces. And men wearing their customary outfits and offering traditional gamosa to elders and seeking blessings. Who wouldn’t like to be a part of one of the most significant festivals of Assam? Without any doubt, it is the time for merriment as the ambience blossoms with happiness, excitement, and utmost fun. You would surely agree with us.
It is the beginning of the New Year when seeds are sowed, which is the most vital aspect of agriculture. The festival is celebrated typically for seven days. However, the two main days are-
- The first day or Garu Bihu is when the community people give a bath to their cows and bulls with turmeric, tie new ropes, and feed them brinjals and gourds.
- On the second day or Manush Bihu, people wear new clothes, prepare special traditional cuisines, and greet each other.
It is a colourful and joyous celebration overall. Men and women wear traditional attires on this special day, sing and dance on folk songs, prepare special dishes such as khar, aloo pitika, mangsho, jalpan, and greet each other. Indeed, a carnival for all.
Let’s learn how New Year is greeted in Assamese. Here we go – ‘Notun Bosorer (S)upeksha Jonalu’.
TAMIL PUTHANDU (14 April 2018)
Puthandu is also called Puthu Varusham and Varusha Pirappu. This day marks the commencement of Dravidian New Year of Tamilians. It is observed on the first day of Chithirai according to the solar cycle of Hindu calendar. Tamilians not just from Tamil Nadu but also living in Singapore, Sri Lanka, Puducherry, Malaysia, and other parts of the world celebrate the New Year that generally falls on 14th of April every year.
Tamilians celebrate their New Year in many interesting and traditional ways as they thank Lord Brahma for creating the universe. Do you want to know how they welcome their new year? Have a look -
- They start the day in an auspicious manner by taking a bath, wearing new clothes, and visiting temples to see Kanni. Kanni is the sight of beautifully decorated offerings that include vegetables and fruits, coconut, jewellery, rice, nuts, and betel leaves.
- Farmers offer prayers for sufficient rainfall and bountiful harvest in the year.
- Women make a beautiful kolam at the entrance with white powder and hang mango leaves on the door.
- Payasam and mango pachadi, along with other traditional savourings are prepared and enjoyed with loved ones. Cultural processions and fairs are organised to commemorate this festival.
To wish New Year in Tamil, you need to say, ‘Puthandu Vazthukal’.
VISHU (15 April 2018)
We all know Onam is the grand festival of Keralites. That’s true. And so is Vishu for them. It is celebrated on the first day of Medam month. It is also the day of spring equinox or when day and night duration is equal. As per the Gregorian calendar, Kerala celebrates it either in March or April every year.
As we have seen the stories behind celebrating New Year of different communities above, even Kerala has some interesting stories to share. For farmers, it is the day to start ploughing land and perform agricultural activities. It is also the time when the sun makes a movement towards Aries or as commonly called ‘mesha rashi’. According to mythology, Vishu is celebrated because on this day Lord Krishna had killed a demon named Narakasura.
It doesn’t matter what story or concept they believe in, Keralites make the celebrations grand. The Malayalis start the day with Vishukkani that refers to first sight. There’s an age-old tradition that says looking at an auspicious thing in the morning will bring good luck and prosperity to your New Year. Usually, it is a gold coin of golden-yellow flower placed near Lord Krishna’s idol in puja room. Isn’t that interesting?
So, would you open your eyes on 15th April 2018 to see something auspicious? You can try, as there is nothing wrong in doing so. What’s more? Malayalis then visit temples to seek blessings, burn firecrackers as part of the tradition, and have a delicious feast – sadhya. Are you ready for it? So are we.
So, happy Vishu? No, it should be – ‘Puthiya Varsha Ashamshagal’.
PANA SANKRANTI (14 April 2018)
Odisha celebrates its traditional New Year or Pana Sankranti or Maha Bisuba Sankranti on the first day of Mesha month of the solar cycle. Or if you go by the lunar calendar, it’s the 24th day of Chaitra month and falls on 14th of April every year based on the Gregorian calendar.
This festival is not just celebrated by Hindus or specifically Odia people but is enjoyed by Buddhists as well. Some of them also celebrate this day as Lord Hanuman’s birthday. You can see fervour on their faces on this day. And just like other communities, many fascinating traditions are also performed in Odisha. Allow me to give you a brief on few of them that deserve a mention.
- Pana, a sweet drink is made in a pot, which is then hung on top of a tulsi tree. A tiny hole is made at the pot’s bottom from where the drink drops. This symbolises rain.
- In many parts of Odisha, Danda Nach or the folk dance is performed, and Charaka Padva or cultural fairs are organised.
Overall, the festival is celebrated in a fun and traditional manner. So, it’s now time to learn greetings in Odia – ‘Naba Barsha Ra Hardika Shubhechha’.
POILA BOISHAKH (15 April 2018)
This is the traditional Indian New Year of Bengalis, which is observed in West Bengal, Tripura, and also in Bangladesh. It is also known by the terms Naba Barsha or Pohela Boishakh, that is celebrated on the first day of Baisakh month. According to Gregorian calendar, it usually falls on 14th or 15th of April every year.
So, how do the Bengalis observe this festival?
Bengalis need no particular reason for merry-making, they love celebrations. And, we love the zeal that they have. They instantly switch on their festive mood. This can be perfectly witnessed on this day. They welcome the new year with a positive attitude and make sure that they have utmost fun.
They start the day by worshipping Lord Ganesha and Goddess Laxmi, and seek blessings for good health and long life. They enjoy some mouth-watering Bengali delicacies such as aloo posto, daab chingri, phulko luchi, and what have you.
Ladies pick up beautiful attires from the Chaitra sale and show off their traditional swag cladded in red sarees and red bindis. What’s more? There are mini fairs organised in every nook and corner of the state where young and adults make no compromise with respect to enjoyment, food, and folk songs and dance.
Be a part of this exciting Bengali tradition and don’t forget to greet each other by saying – ‘Subho Nababarsha’ or ‘Shubho Poila Baisakh’.
BESTU VARAS/DIWALI (8 November 2018)
Popularly known by the name Diwali, Bestu Varas is the Gujarati New Year observed in the autumn season. It’s a five-day-long festival when people light diyas and lamps to welcome prosperity. Although Diwali is celebrated in the entire nation believing it to be the day when Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya, Gujarat commemorates it to be the traditional new year.
Bestu Varas falls on the first day of Kartik month as the Gujarati New Year. This community believes in a different mythological story. On this day. Lord Krishna lifted Govardhan Parvat to save people from the heavy threatening rain. And so, the Gujaratis understand the power of unity to face obstacles in life. That’s a learning for us too. Don’t you think so?
Let’s now throw light on how the people of Gujaratis welcome their new year.
Chopda puja is one of the most vital parts of this day where they offer prayers for a healthy financial year. Every home is lighted up and filled with the aroma of sweetened delicacies. Let’s not forget garba and dandiya on this day.
You are welcome to the colourful state of Gujarat to rejoice the traditional new year by relishing sweets such as mamra na ladoo and jalebi and of course, their favourite namkeens including khakhra, fafda, and dhoklas.
Finally, we say – ‘Tamne navu varsh shubhechha che’.
NOWRUZ (20 March 2018)
Although the Persian or Iranian community in India is a minority, it forms an integral part of our nation. Nowruz is an Iranian New Year celebrated since thousands of years all over the world. This festival is observed on the vernal equinox day.
A fact for you. Usually, many people greet this day by saying Pateti Mubarak. Well, patet is a prayer offered on last day asking the Lord to forgive their mistakes. So if you greet someone by saying Pateti Mubarak, you’re actually asking for the person’s forgiveness. That’s a humble thing to do, don’t you think?
The Zoroastrian community all over the nation, especially in states of Maharashtra, Telangana, and northern parts of India, celebrates the day in traditional ways. They decorate their houses with flowers and wear new clothes. In addition to this, they visit fire temple (community temple) to seek blessings for a happy and fruitful year from their Lord.
They have breakfast with their loved ones and spend the day visiting their relatives and friends. And how do they feast? They have a large feast table where some exclusive delicacies are prepared and served. Some of them are moong dal, sali boti, and pulav. Did you know the entire family eats together in one big plate? Yes, that’s true and it signifies their love and affection towards each other.
How do they greet? ‘Sad saal be in saal ha’, or you can simply say, ‘Naya saal Mubarak’.
MUHARRAM (11 September 2018)
It is the Islamic New Year that is observed in the first month according to the Islamic calendar. Muslims from all over the world believe it to be the sacred month. The literal meaning of Muharram refers to forbidden. Every year, the date changes as per Gregorian calendar, and this year it will be on 11 September 2018.
While the Sunni community of Islam celebrates this day, the Shia community mourns on the other hand. The story is completely different.
Coming down to the celebration, the day is started early in the morning with prayers. They wear new traditional clothes and greet each other by seeking blessings from the elders of the family.
A popular delicacy sheer khurma or sewaiya is made, along with other aromatic dishes such as biryani. A traditional recipe of dum ke roat is relished on Muharram in Hyderabad and other cities. You can be a part of Islamic New Year 2018, no matter in which part of the nation you are in.
Welcome the Islamic new year with a warm hug and by greeting – ‘Naya Saal Mubarak Ho’.
Without any doubt, we are fortunate enough to be part of a land that is known for its unity and diversity. Although the languages are different, the essence of welcoming a brand new year is almost the same with every community. If you have been missing out the traditional and cultural spirit of Indian New Year celebration all these years, we say, ‘It’s better late than never’.
Taste the unique flavours of different Indian communities in varied authentic manners. Doesn’t it sound exciting? Do let us know what your plans are for 2018-19. We shall be glad to hear from you. Also, comment below if you think we have missed out on anything.
May 2018 be a blessed one for you folks!
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