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India’s Traditional New Year Festivals

  • 24 Mar 2023
  • 5 min read

Why in News?

Recently, India celebrated Chaitra Sukladi, Ugadi, Gudi Padwa, Cheti Chand, Navreh and Sajibu Cheiraoba. These festivals of the spring season mark the beginning of the traditional new year in India.

What are the Traditional New Year Festivals in India?

  • Chaitra Sukladi:
    • It marks the beginning of the new year of the Vikram Samvat also known as the Vedic [Hindu] calendar.
    • Vikram Samvat is based on the day when the emperor Vikramaditya defeated Sakas, invaded Ujjain and called for a new era.
    • It is the first day during the waxing phase (in which the visible side of moon is getting bigger every night) of the moon in the Chaitra (first month of Hindu calendar).
  • Gudi Padwa and Ugadi:
    • These festivals are celebrated by the people in the Deccan region including Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
    • A famous concoction served is jaggery (sweet) and neem (bitter), called bevu-bella in the South, signifying that life brings both happiness and sorrows.
    • Gudi is a doll prepared in Maharashtrian homes.
      • For Ugadi, doors in homes are adorned with mango leaf decorations called toranalu or Torana in Kannada.
  • Cheti Chand:
    • Cheti Chand is the new year festival of the Sindhi community.
    • The festival is celebrated to commemorate the birth anniversary of Jhulelal, the patron saint of the Sindhi community.
  • Vaishakhi:
    • It is also pronounced as Baisakhi, observed by Hindus and Sikhs.
    • It commemorates the formation of Khalsa panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.
    • Baisakhi was also the day when colonial British empire officials committed the Jallianwala Bagh massacre at a gathering, an event influential to the Indian movement against colonial rule.
  • Navreh:
    • Navreh is the Kashmiri New Year's Day.
    • The day is marked by performing various rituals, decorating houses with flowers, preparing traditional dishes, and offering prayers to the deities.
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba:
    • It is considered one of the most important festivals of Manipur.
    • It is celebrated with great pomp and joy, especially by the Meiteis of the state.
  • Vishu:
    • It is a Hindu festival celebrated in the Indian state of Kerala, Tulu Nadu region in Karnataka, Mahé district of Union Territory of Pondicherry, neighbouring areas of Tamil Nadu and their diaspora communities.
    • The festival marks the first day of Medam (falls in the middle of April in the Gregorian calendar), the 9th month in the solar calendar in Kerala.
  • Puthandu:
    • Also known as Puthuvarudam or Tamil New Year, is the first day of the year on the Tamil calendar and traditionally celebrated as a festival.
    • The festival date is set with the solar cycle of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, as the first day of the Tamil month Chithirai.
    • It therefore falls on or about 14th April every year on the Gregorian calendar.
  • Bohag Bihu:
    • Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu also called Xaat Bihu (seven Bihus) is a traditional aboriginal ethnic festival celebrated in the state of Assam and other parts of northeastern India by the indigenous ethnic groups of Assam.
    • It marks the beginning of the Assamese New Year.
    • It usually falls in the 2nd week of April, historically signifying the time of harvest.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question:

Q. Chaitra 1 of the national calendar based on the Saka Era corresponds to which one of the following dates of the Gregorian calendar in a normal year of 365 days? (2014)

(a) 22nd March (or 21st March)
(b) 15th May (or 16th May)
(c) 31st March (or 30th March)
(d) 21st April (or 20th April)

Ans: (a)

Source: PIB

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