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Chithirai - Tamil New Year

10 Apr 03

Chithirai - TamilNew Year

The Tamil month of Chithrai (April - May) marks the new year for the Dravidians. New Year’s Day Tamil New Year’s Day, Chitra Vishu, falling on April 14 2001, is a festival for offering prayers for nature’s bounty and a life of prosperity for oneself and family. In the Andhra, Karnataka and Maratha calendar, New Year’s Day, called Ugadhi, falls around the same time, though not on the same day. Sun’s movement is the measure for the year in the Tamil calendar. Hence the description of the calendar computation as saura mana. The period during which the sun traverses the 12 parts of the rasi mandalam, from Mesha to Meena, constitutes a year. The new year starts on the day the sun moves into Mesha rasi. As the sun leaves one rasi and enters another, a new month is born. Thus the naming of the months as Mesha, Rishabha, Mithuna, Kataka, Simha, Kanni, Thula, Vrischika, Dhanur, Makara, Kumbha, and Meena. Each of these is represented by an animal. Goat stands for Mesha. In the Tamil calendar, the twelve months during which the sun travels through the different rasis are called Chithirai, Vaikasi, Ani, Adi, Avani, Purattasi, Aippasi, Karthikai, Marghazhi, Thai, Masi, and Panguni (corresponding, respectively, to April-May, May-June, June-July, July-August, August-September, September-October, October-November, November-December, December-January, January-February, February-March, and March-April).

Chitra Vishu, according to one ancient text, is the day when Brahma started creation.This is a day for offering worship both at temple and at home, preferably in the morning, after duly bathing. Bath for many on this day is with a concoction made of flowers, herbs, arugam grass, turmeric and milk. This practice still prevails in places like Singapore and Sri Lanka. Also on this day the new almanac, or panchangam, is read and elaborated at temples. It is common to find a neem blossom pachchadi in the menu of households on this day. Some offer rice pongal to the Almighty as they worship Him. Starting the new year with worship and prayer ensures one’s welfare throughout the year.

Businessmen traditionally start their new account for the year on Chithirai. One should participate also in the special worship at temples, in the evening if one is busy during the day, and pray for the good of one’s country and of the world, besides one’s own welfare.

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