The world may have celebrated the beginning of a New Year on the 1st of January, but most regional communities in India celebrate the auspicious beginning of a brand new year, as per the regional calendars, around mid-April. This is the time of festivities, celebrations and traditional rituals for people in Punjab, Bengal, Assam, Kerala and a few other states as they gear up to herald the start of yet another year amidst much pomp & splendour! Here are a few New Year traditions from different regions of India that you can indulge in this year to get a flavour of our country’s diverse culture!
The boisterousness of Baisakhi
Baisakhi, that heralds the beginning of the Punjabi New Year, is traditionally a harvest festival celebrated by the people of the Northern region. The most exciting part of Baisakhi is the enthusiastic performances of Bhangra & Gidda folk dances indulged in by men & women dressed in traditional & colourful attire, which makes this festival a joyful one. So, dance away to the rhythmic beats of the dhol and mark the start of a great harvesting season by celebrating Baisakhi in all its pomp & grandeur!
The popularity of Poila Boishakh
The people of Bengal usher in the Bengali New Year on Poila Boishakh which marks the first day of the Bengali calendar. This day is spent in worshipping Goddess Lakshmi & Lord Ganesha – the harbinger of wealth & prosperity – specially by businessmen who invite customers to clear all old dues and open new ledgers for the year. The Bengalis celebrate the day amidst much fun & fervour, flaunting new clothes, feasting on traditional Bengali sweets and visiting shops & establishments for the Haal Khata (new ledger) ritual.
The blessedness of Bohaag Bihu
The pompous festival of Bohaag Bihu or Rongaali Bihu marks the onset of the agricultural cycle as well as the New Year for the people of Assam. The folks in the North-Eastern state celebrate this festival for days with big, bright fairs and fun games, exchange of gifts, new clothes and the traditional festive food of ‘pitha’ or sweet rice cakes. Young girls also dress up in traditional ensembles to sing the ‘Bihugeets’ and dance the folk form of ‘Mukoli Bihu’ for some joyous entertainment!
The vivacity of Vishu
The first day of the first month of Medam in the southern state of Kerala is celebrated with the festival of Vishu. The Malayalees begin the day on a pious note with an early morning visit to the temple, followed by a day full of rituals – distributing coins among the poor, wearing new clothes ‘Kodi Vastram’, enjoying a traditional lunch called ‘Sadya’ with friends & family, and bursting firecrackers at night. The Malayalee New Year is ushered in with much ceremonial splendour, making this one of the most festive times of the year!
How are you celebrating your regional New Year? What traditions do you love from amongst the varied facets of the Indian culture? Let us know in the comments below and have an amazing New Year ahead!