DatesTo be Announced
LocationTamil Nadu, India
Puthandu is the celebration of the Tamil New Year as per the commencement of the new month of Chithirai, embarking on a new year in the Hindu calendar. The festival is celebrated in multiple states and massive feasts are prepared for the festival.
The South Indian state of Tamil Nadu is a state full of rich culture and heritage. Puthandu is an integral festival that is celebrated by the people with immense enthusiasm and joy.
Tamil Nadu has been home to classical civilizations since two millennia. The culture still holds strong and is portrayed throughthe state’s language, dance, poetry, art, celebrations and forms of Hinduism.
Some of India’s most renowned temples are here, like the exquisite, sculpted works of stone at Thanjavur (Tanjore). The state is blooming with upcoming industries amidst the scenic beauty of palm and banana plantations and rich rice fields. Among them are some of the very well-known yoga and meditation retreats, ancient forts and European-styled bread and breakfasts.
To get away from the hot, tropical city, one always has an option to escape to the southernmost tip of India where three seas unite or to the cool Western Ghats, full of diverse flora and fauna. Tamil Nadu is basically all the best features of different parts of India, combined into one.
The first day of the year in the Tamil calendar is celebrated as the Tamil New Year of Puthandu and falls on 14th April every year. It marks the beginning of a new calendar year. Along with Tamil Nadu, the New Year is observed in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Manipur, Tripura, Bihar, Odisha, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan and is celebrated with immense enthusiasm, fervor and joy. It is also celebrated in Nepal, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Sinhalese in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh mostly due to the influence of the common culture in South and Southeast Asia in the 1st millennium. In Kerala it is celebrated as ‘Vishu’, in Orissa as ‘Pana Sankranti’, in West Bengal as ‘PoilaBoishak’, in Assam as ‘Bihu’ and in Punjab this day is observed as ‘Vaisakhi’, the names varying due to the different languages spoken in the regions.
The New Year has been referenced several times in Tamil literature. Famous Tamil authors like Nakkirar, Sangam period author of the Neṭunalvāṭai, wrote that the sun travels each year from Mesha/Chithirai in mid April through 11 successive signs of the zodiac.
Puthandu signifies a day of fresh starts and new beginnings which instills a hope that the coming year will bring newer opportunities and help one grow.Neem flowers and raw mangoes are commonly used in the celebration, symbolic of growth and prosperity. In a plate various things such as mango, banana, jackfruit, betel leaves, areca nuts, gold or silver jewellery, money, flowers and a mirrorare arranged. The next morning, people take a bath only after looking at this plate in the morning after which they take a bath and offer Pongal to the gods. People also visit temples to start of their new year with blessings for growth and prosperity.
Puthandu marks the beginning of the Hindu month of Chithirai, the first month of the new year. There is a common belief that Puthandu is the day when Lord Brahma began the creation of the universe. Thus this day is considered to be an extremely auspicious occassion. Some Tamil communities also believe that Lord Indra, known as the “ Prince of Harmony” visited the Earth to certify contentment and amity. The festival is seen as a day full of feasts and merrymaking, carrying with it immense hope, joy and an initiation of new beginnings. People exchange warm greetings like “ PuthanduPirappuv”, implying “Happy New Year”.
Food, as observed in several Indian festivals, plays an integral role in the celebration of Puthandu. To make the festival even more interesting, huge feasts are preparedand special dishes like Mangai-pachadi (made from jaggery, mustard, raw mango, neem and red chillies) are a staple. These festive delicacies that are a combination of flavors symbolize the fact that life has its sweet and bitter moments and it is necessary for an individual to savor all such experiences and learn from them. The other dishes made include dhal poli, mango pachdi, veppam poo rasam and so on.
In 2018, the Tamil New Year (Puthandu) 2018 Mesha Sankranthi Moment was scheduled at 8:27 AM.
Puthandu is celebrated as the Tamil New Year as it marks the first day of the Hindu month of Chithrai and people embark their journey into the new year.
The preparations for Puthandu begin one day prior to the festival. Kanni is a ritual where people look at a plate filled with three fruits, silver or gold jewellery, areca nuts, money, betel leaves, flowers and a mirror. This practice is said to bring happiness and prosperity in the following year.
People decorate their homes beautifully with ‘kuhtuvillakku’ in the center of kolams, signifying lamps that get rid of the darkness that prevails. New clothes are worn and feasts with gourmet delicacies are prepared. People exchange new year greetings and young members receive gifts and money from the elders. A Brahman Bhoj is also performed on this auspicious occasion. In order to seek the blessings of the lord, people visit templeswhere the head priest usually reads out the “Panchangam”.
Rituals like “tharpanam” and others are also performed by some families to remember their ancestors on this day. A big car festival is also observed at Tiruvidaimarudur, near Kumbakonam, Kanchipalam, Tiruchirapalli and a few other places in the state. In Madurai, a huge exhibition, called “ChithiraiPorutkaatchi”, is held at the popular Meenakshi Amman temple.
Chennai - Kanchipuram
Tiruvannamalai - Gingee - Yercaud - Trichy - Kodaikanal - Madurai Chettinad - Thanjavur - Pondicherry - Mahabalipuram - Chennai
Chennai - Kanchipuram
Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry - Chittinad - Tanjore - Madurai - Chennai
Chennai - Mahabalipuram
Pondicherry - Thanjavur - Chettinad - Madurai - Kodaikanal - Munnar - Alleppey - Cochin - Mararikulam - Cochin