One might wonder why India is called a land of celebrations. India with its diverse culture and traditions encompasses a whole gamut of festivals. New Year in India is one such occasion when Indians, like the rest of the world, ring out the old year and ring in the new with joy and jubilation.
Unlike Western countries, New Year in India is celebrated at different times and in different ways according to the regional cultures. Each region has its own way of celebrating New Year, which in turn has deep seated cultural as well as historical roots. DGreetings offers you an insight into the festivities surrounding the celebration of New Year in India.
In certain regions of India like Gujarat, Diwali, the festival of lights, is celebrated as New Year's Day. On this day people light rows of little oil lamps in and around their houses to welcome Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi visits homes that are brightly lit, the reason why Diwali is known as festival of lights. The first day of Diwali is known as “Dhanteras” or New Year of Business. It is customary to get rid off all the debts and obligations before Diwali as carrying off old worries from the past year is considered as a bad omen in Hindu traditions.
In the eastern part of India, for instance in West Bengal, New Year is celebrated during spring and is known as “Paila Baisakh”. The festival is celebrated with songs, dances, and mouth-watering delicacies. Games with regional flavor like kite flying, bullfighting or reciting of poems also add zest to the celebrations. People clean and decorate their houses with colorful and fresh flowers in vivid hues like pink, red, purple and white. Women wear clothes that are yellow in color, a color symbolic of the season of spring.
In southern parts of India like Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, New Year is celebrated during spring and is known as Ugadi . On New Year's day, it is the practice among to eat “Ugadi Pacchadi”. It is made from neem flowers, mango juice, jaggery and other ingredients with different tastes. By eating this on New Year's Day, the person is symbolically accepting that life is a mixture of good and bad, joy and sorrow and all of them have to be accepted and dealt with.
New Year in Kerala falls on the first day of the Malayalam month of Medam, according to the Kollam calendar. The festival is known as Vishu and is celebrated with fun and gaiety. It is believed that on the morning of the first day of the New Year, the first objects which one sees after waking up determine the prosperity experienced in the approaching year. That's the reason people make it a point to see all the auspicious things as soon as they wake up. This is called Vishukkani, where a tray is arranged with auspicious articles like rice grains, golden cucumber, fresh linen betel leaves, arecanut, metal mirror, yellow flowers, a holy text and coins. And people as they wake up look at the tray and wish for happiness and opulence in the coming year. Another popular ritual followed is kaineettam where older members of the family give a token amount of money to the children. These are some of the traditions followed in various regions of India as part of the New Year celebrations.