Chaitra Sukladi is the traditional Hindi New Year, based on the Vikram Samvant Hindu Lunar calendar, which is followed in Northern parts of India. This ‘Ugadi’ (or ‘New Age’) celebration takes place on April 8, in the regions of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. This special day marks an opportunity for new beginnings, and is also believed to be the day that the Universe was created by Lord Brahma.
New Year Celebrations
Throughout other parts of India, and the world, the New Year is celebrated on different days. These annual celebrations are seeped in age old traditions and usually involve colourful entertainment, feasting on regional food and unique customs.
In the Hindu culture there are many alternative New Year celebrations throughout the month of April:
- Kashmir – April 7
Known as ‘Navreh’, this New Year day is celebrated according to the traditional lunar calendar followed by Hindus in Kashmir. This celebration dates back to ancient times and is also mentioned in sacred texts.
- Maharashtra – April 8
Although the people of Maharashtra also celebrate Hindi New Year on April 8, here the tradition is called ‘Gudi Padwa’. The Maharashtra New Year symbolises valor and the victory of good over all that is evil.
- Punjab – April 13
Punjab’s New Year festivities take place on April 13 and are a vibrant and joyous celebration. The ‘Baisakhi’, as the New Year is known in this region of India, commemorates the bounty of the farmers’ harvest. People dress up in colourful costumes and participate in traditional community celebrations. They also take part in traditional Punjabi Bhangra dancing. The vast crowds of people, that gather to celebrate, are usually entertained by acrobatic displays and wrestling.
- Assam – April 13
In Assam, New Year is traditionally celebrated on the first day of the Assamese month of Bohaag. This is usually sometime in the middle of the month of April. The annual event is known as ‘Rongali Bihu’ or ‘Bohag Bihu’ and is celebrated for three days.
- Orissa – April 13
On ‘Maha Vishuva Sankranti’ New Year, the people in Orissa begin the celebrations by worshipping the deities and asking for blessings. It is also a traditional custom to offer a ‘pana’ (a fruit based drink) to the Gods.
- Bengal – April 14
In Bengal, the New Year is celebrated on the first day of the Bengali month of Baisakh. ‘Naba Barsha’ or ‘Pôhela Boishakh’ is typically around the 14th or 15th of April. Here, it is believed that the way that you celebrate this special day reflects on how you will spend the rest of the year. People therefore go to great lengths to decorate their homes and place of work. They also wear new clothes and exchange greetings and token gifts of sweets. An elaborate feast is also part of the New Year festivities.
- Tamil Nadu – April 14
The traditional Tamil New Year is all about new beginnings. ‘Puthandu’ welcomes all that is good and illuminating. For this reason people decorate their homes with a Kuthuvillakku lamp and decorative motifs known as Kolams. The colourful Kolams are made of rice powder or paste, and besides providing decoration they also attract ants. The feeding of ants is considered to be a symbolic representation of the ‘live and let live’ principle.
- Kerala – April 14
There are two auspicious ‘Vishu’ New Year celebrations in Kerala. During ‘Vishukkaineetam’ the elders of the family give money to the children and their servants. ‘Vishukanni’ is a morning ritual that is believed to attract good luck.