The Sinhala new year 13th or 14th april depends on astrologists, [ Aluth awurudda ] also called Sinhala & Hindu aluth awurudda is one of the very important event in paradise island. Sinhala buddhist and hindus are celebrating this occasion with a high priority of their life. It is celebrating to end the old year and to begin the new year at auspicious time according to the astrologers.
Nonagathaya is the neutral period. In this special time people stop all the activities and works and engage with the religious activities. People finish all the activities like buying things, cleaning house/clothes, having food and etc. In this time people visit temples to do the religious activities or do it at home. In the temples of most of the villages rings the bell to inform the auspicious time of the rituals to the villagers but in this generation  every tv and radio channels are announcing all the information about auspicious time.
Time to prepare food
The new year or the cooking process atarting with the boiling of coconut milk in a pot. Milk should split off or overflow the pot. Its to symbolize the prosperity. While the milk is boiling mothers start to cook the new year meal to have on the auspicious time.
Commencement of work
On this auspicious time to symbolize the starting of work [Weda elliima] people just do their work for a few minutes. Children read a school book, farmers plant a seed ,everybody do at least some small thing which is related to their occupation. In this time everybody must look on one direction. Every year it differs according to the astrologers. Every year it is different color of clothes must wear on this time. In 2020 it was white color and the direction was north.
Then there is the time to greet elders an exchange gifts among each other and money to symbolize the ritual. Young people greet [worship] to their elders specially mother and father with a sheaf of beatle leaves. Elders give their blessing to young ones and the whole family. For kids its kind of funny and interesting moment as they receive gifts and money. Normally father is the main person who is giving gifts and money to everybody but some families invites a wealthy person to come for this special moment. By doing this people believe it can give them a good start to be wealthy in that particular year.
Before the meal everybody light the oil lamp. Meal time is to symbolize the unity of the family and the unity. Milk rice is a must to be on the table with spicy onion sambal called [Katta sambal] and there are special sweets need to be on the table. Some of those names are Kokis,Kavum,Mun Kavum,Asmi,Kalu dodol. Those sweets are made before the transition period start.
It’s time to visit relatives and neighbors
Once the previous rituals finished time begins to visit relatives who are living in the village and the neighbors as well. When you visit them you exchange gifts and money and brings the traditional sweets or other desserts. In every house you will get the treatments with sweets and drinks. like this most families goes to eaah others houses, some goes by telling in advance but most of the time they just visit without advance arangements. It is the time to forget last year bad memories and make relationships strong in new year.
Oil on head & Shower
Applying oil is doing by at home by father or monks in the temples. Oil is called ‘NAANU’. It’s a mixture of extractions of lots of herbal leaves. Anointing is done under a canopy from which branches of medicinal leaves specially prescribed for that particular year are suspended and also standing on leaves considered lucky for that year facing the auspicious direction. It is strongly believed that this oil can help for the good health in new incoming year. During the kings time oil anointed on the head of the king to live long life and stay healthy however lankan folks brought it with the same meaning but different way.
‘Kalu kaputa sudu vanthuru, kikili bijuwa pelavena thuru
molgahe dalu lana thuru, 120 ta 220 ayu boho vewa’
when it translates it says this: -until the crow turns white, until the hen’s eggs grow to a plant, until motar slender leaves, your age be increased from 120 to 220 years. After the applying of the oil on the head then it’s the time to take a shower to wash away all the bad things in the last year.
At last the ritual is to leave for the jobs. People leave the home to their jobs exactly at the auspicious time but people who are working in banks must work before this date as people are rushing to the banks to deposit money on auspicious time. In government banks they normally work for short period but in private banks they work for a longer period.
During all month of April cities are very busy with people are buying clothes, food and rest of the things which they need for the new year. There are lots of new year festivals you can see every village with different new year sports and specially bicycle races. It is a very usual scene that you can see people are playing traditional music and games. ‘Rabaana’ is a special drum in srilanka and its specially playing by women according to lankan folk poems called ‘Raban padha’. ‘Pancha demiima’ ‘gudu gesiima’ ‘onchillawa pediima are some of traditional sports related to the new year festival.
‘Koha’ Bird [ Koel ]
This bird is the symbol of the new year. When the season starts this bird start to make his beautiful noise everywhere. Whole month of april koha bird usually sing. One of the special thing about this bird is that he doesn’t lay eggs on their own nests, they lay eggs on crows nests as when the the chicks are small crows can not recognize them separately. When chicks are small they exactly looks like crow chicks.
In case if you in srilanka in new year time please do not forget to spend your time in a home stay or with a local family to experience this special rituals.
Article by Amila Rathnayake
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