Hindu New Year is celebrated in many ways. The celebration depends on where the Hindus live. Activities vary based on the Indian National Calendar called the Pachanganga. Majority of the festivities are held on April. It is also commemorated as the Vikran Samvat and starts on the first day of the Kartrik Calendar Month.
In the middle of April, Bengalis welcome the New Year with Pahela Baishakh, Assamese with Bihu, and Tamils with Puthandu. Punjab celebrates the Baisakhi and Kerala observes the Vishu. For those who live in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, the epic tale about Lord Brahma who started to create the Ugadi or Universe became popular. Hindus in these states prepare for this very important day by cleaning their homes and buying new wardrobe. They adorn their residences with Rangoli (Indian art) as well as mango leaves praying for a flourishing New Year. Hindus visit the temples and listen to their priests to male prophecies for the coming year.
In Central India particularly the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, Hindus observe New Year as a spring time festival known as Gudi Padawa which proclaims the arrival of spring. In the first day of Chaitra, water characteristically purifies residents and their homes. They raise and worship a silk banner while exchanging greetings. Meanwhile, the Sindhis (Sindh Province of Pakistan) remember the Cheti Chand that also falls on the first day of Chaitra. The Sindhis venerate their water deity (Varuna) and observe several rites followed by feast banquets and spiritual music that includes Arti and Bhajan or “sharing”.
Tamils also celebrate Puthandu or Puthuvarusham. Their day begins with Saptha Kanni which means looking at or perceiving lucky objects like jewelry, gold, silver, new wardrobe, rice, agricultural commodities, vegetables, fruits, and mirrors. In the morning, they take part in rituals that include bathing and worship described as Panchanga or Panchang. The Tamil Panchangam Book is all about predictions during the New Year. It is anointed with various substances like sandalwood (aromatic oil); flowers; turmeric paste; and, vermilion powder.
On the day before this event, Tamil households are decorated with garlands made of mango leaves. The traditional dishes consist of Pachadi made up of a blend of jaggery or dark brown sugar; salt; chili; neem leaves; green bananas; tamarind; and jackfruit.
Why do Hindus Celebrate New Year?
The commemoration of New Year predates 57 BC or Before Christ which is the Hindu calendar’s origin and related to the celebrated Hindu King Vikramaditya who defeated a Shaka king oppressing Hindus in 78 CE. According to Hindu Scriptures, Hindu New Year is celebrated to remember the creation of the Universe which is approximately 34 billion years in the past. This handiwork occurred during the calendar date of Chaitra Shukia Pratipada. Hindus honor this jovial occasion as part of their religious traditions.