Tamil people across the world celebrates New year, which is on the first day of the Chithirai month. This special day is also referred to as Puthandu or Varsha Pirappu. The most interesting part about Tamil New Year is that the Puthandu falls almost on the same day every year in the Gregorian calendar. People greet each other saying, ‘Puthandu Nalvazthukal’ to each on this day, which translates to Happy New Year.
Tamilians, in a bid to welcome positive vibes and blessings into the house, start the day by making “kolams”, which are made using coloured rice flour at the entrances. Many people sing devotional songs and also make pongal on this day and offer it in worship as neivethyam (offering made to God). Manga-Pachadi (Mango Pachadi) is also prepared on this day.
If there is one dish that celebrates seasonal food, it is probably the Manga Pachadi. Raw mangoes, tamarind, jaggery, fresh neem flowers – all seasonal items are used to create a play of flavours in your mouth. This dish also has a philosophical reference — to a new year filled with ups and downs, sorrows and joys. Sweetness from the jaggery, a hit of expectation from the tamarind, sorrow from the bitter neem flowers. It is a symbolic way of looking at all that might be in store for us in the year ahead.
Then they take part in prayers and start the day by making a visit to temples. People then sit down to relish a lavish spread of delicious preparations in their best traditional clothes after having paid their respects to the elders in the family.
Set with the lunisolar Hindu calendar’s solar cycle, today is the first day of the traditional Tamil new year and is a public holiday in Tamil Nadu as well as Sri Lanka. The new year begins with the first month of the Tamil solar calendar, Chittirai.
While Tamilians across the world celebrate Puthandu, many other communities across India celebrate their traditional new year on the same day — it is Vishu for people in Kerala, Bihu for those in Assam, Baishakhi in Punjab and Pohela Boishakh in West Bengal. Notably, states like Manipur, Tripura, Odisha, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, too commemorate their new year festivities on the same day.
Tamilians across the world look forward to new year’s day with hope and anticipation. It is a day where families come to celebrate, feast and have a great get-together.
Other than manga pachadi, the elaborate feast also includes recipes such as vadai, sambhar, sadam (rice), payasam, appalam (papad), vegetable curry, fresh mango pickle, curd and such items.