Spring harvest season: Many faces, many names
Different parts of India celebrated the new year on April 14 and 15, including Baisakhi in Punjab, Bihu in Assam, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu and Vishu in Kerala. Celebrations included traditional offerings, dance, song and special dishes.
April 14 and 15 mark new year celebrations in different parts of the country albeit by diverse names. The common thread is that the spring harvest season which is celebrated with some cultural differences in many parts of the country: Bihu in Assam, Baisakhi in Punjab, Vishu in Kerala, and Puthandu in Tamil Nadu.
On Friday, Baisakhi was celebrated with fervour by Punjabis. It marked the beginning of the Sikh New Year and the formation of the Khalsa Panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. Kadha prasad with sugar, wheat flour and ghee as the traditional offering was distributed among people.
They also visited Gurudwaras to attend Langar, pray and celebrate with Gidda performances and sing folk songs.
Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu is one of the biggest festivals of Assam and marked as the Assamese New Year. This year Bohag Bihu is being observed from April 14 to 20. The festival is celebrated over seven days with a different tradition. Dance and song are the main features of the celebrations.
Puthandu, also known as Puthuvarudam, marks the Tamil New Year. It is the first day of the Tamil calendar, falling on April 14, this year. The celebrations for the day start by making kolam – designs made of coloured rice flour at the house entrance. Puthandu-special dishes, including Pongal and Mango Pachadi, are prepared by families.
Members of the Bengali community will celebrate April 15 as the beginning of their new year. The Bengali Club will celebrate Bengali New Year Day (Poila Boishak) by organising a musical programme on Saturday at 8 pm on their premises.
Snigdhajit Bhowmik from Kolkata and his band will perform live during h celebrations. Famous Bengali sweet darbesh will be distributed after the programme to visitors. This is the 1430 year of Bengali New Year, said Arun Kumar Banerjee, president of the club.
In the past when almost all Bengalis used to live in Sunderbagh, Model Houses, Hewett Road, Nazar Bagh and other nearby areas, then there used to be Prabhat Pheri accompanied by famous songs of Atul Prasad Sen like ‘Nutan Barash Nutan Barash Anchale O Ki Dhaka’, Banerjee recounted.
Vishu marks the new year in Kerala and falls on April 15. Celebrations begin at sunrise as people awaken at dawn and start their day by looking at Vishu Kani. The traditional metal lamp called Nilavilakku is also lit and placed beside the Uruli.