India is the land of diversity in every way. Just like the topographical variety, the people and their culture also vary in many ways. But again in many ways, people are strung together in one chord. For example, Diwali means the “festival of light” but the way of celebration and rituals may vary from one region to another. Similarly, Hindus all over India celebrate their New Year as per the solar calendar and this New Year celebration is called differently in different regions across India. The date is either 14th or 15th April and the basic style of celebration is the same everywhere like wearing new clothes, feasting with friends and relatives, decoration of the house, and gift exchange. But the rituals vary and that’s what makes this Hindu New Year celebration vivacious.
Take a look below and know about the significance of Hindu New Year across India and how they celebrate this day.
Baisakhi – Punjab:
Baisakhi is celebrated every year on either 13th or 14th April and this day marks three important things: the formation of Khalsa Panth of warriors under the leadership of Guru Gobind Singh in 1699; it celebrates the Sikh New Year; it celebrates the harvest of the spring season.
People residing in Punjab of North India or any Punjabi residing anywhere in the country or the world celebrates this day with high-spirit. One of the major events in the cultural history of Sikhism is Baisakhi. This day is remembered as the birth of Khalsa and also the coronation of the 10th Guru of Sikhs. Also, on this day of Baisakhi, General Dyre of the then British Empire fired and killed innocent people at the Jallianwala Bagh.
The Nishan Sahib – the triangular flag is seen outside the Gurdwaras are changed every year during Baisakhi. People go to the nicely decorated Gurdwaras and pray, take a holy bath, attend community fairs, conduct Nagar kirtan (town hymn singing), and then feast over yummy food.
Puthandu – Tamil Nadu:
Puthandu is the Tamil New Year that is celebrated in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. The day of spring equinox or 14th April is the day of Puthandu. The evening prior to Puthandu, i.e., on 13th April a tray is arranged with three fruits – banana, mango, and jack fruit, gold or silver jewelry, betel leaves & areca nuts, coins or money, flowers, and mirror. People look at this tray soon after waking up as this is believed to bring good luck. The entrance of the home is decorated with colorful rice powder called Rangoli. People also visit the temples, wear new clothes, go to meet friends and relatives, and eat nice food.
Pohela Boishakh – West Bengal:
The people of West Bengal, Tripura, & Bangladesh celebrate this day as Bengali New Year. The date is set as per the lunisolar Bengali calendar as the first day of its first month.
People greet each other saying – Shubho Noboborsho which means Happy New Year. Mangal Shobhajatra is the early morning procession that takes place in Bangladesh was declared as a cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO in 2016. People clean their house, wear new clothes, some go to the holy Ganga to take the holy dip, and some offer pujas in temples. An earthen pot is kept at the center of the Rangoli. This pot is filled with Gangajal, mango leaves, and there is a mark of Swastika on the pot – this brings good luck. Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi are worshipped on this day especially by the businessmen and traders as they start their new financial year on 14th April.
Bohag Bihu – Assam:
Bohag Bihu is also known as Rongali Bihu & Xaat Bihu. It is celebrated on the 15th of April. Bohag Bihu is about a celebration without any discrimination and it promotes brotherhood, equality, and diversity. On the occasion of Rangali Bihu, there are 7 pinnacle phases: ‘Chot’, ‘Raati’, ‘Goru’, ‘Manuh’, ‘Kutum’, ‘Mela’ and ‘Chera’. The word Bihu means “to ask for peace”. The families cook the green leafy vegetables or saag or xak to mark the prosperous harvest season. Other food items for this festival are rice, coconut, sesame, jaggery, milk, and milk products. Some people also enjoy freshly brewed rice beer and meat.
Vishu – Kerala:
The other name of the Malayali New Year is Vishu that falls on 15th April. The term Vishu literally means “equal”. There is no such splendor or glitter on this festival. People celebrate it very simply with their family members and close relatives. Just like Puthandu, a colorful tray is prepared during Vishu also. Sadhya is the special meal of Vishu and it is a mix of sweet, salty, bitter, and sour items. This dish prepares the body to face the summer heat.
Pana Sankranti – Odisha:
Pana Sankranti is the Odia New Year and both Buddhists and Hindus celebrate this day on 15th April. People in Odisha believe that on this auspicious day Lord Hanuman was born. Thus, they visit Hanuman Temples. People also worship Lord Shiva on this day after a holy bath in the nearby pond or river. Pana is the drink of this festival. The ingredients of Pana are sweet mango pulp, yoghurt, coconut, and milk. The notable USP of this Pana Sankranti is “fire walk”. In this performing art, the artists first take a dip in the water. Then they sprint over the bed of burning charcoals amidst music.