The spirit of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year | Sunday Observer

The spirit of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year

10 April, 2022

The aroma of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year awakens the spirit of togetherness among people in the country. Nature reminds us of the dawn of the New Year in multiple ways.

It is the Cukoo bird that brings the message of the new year. Various trees including bakmee trees, erabadu trees and mango trees laden with flowers and fruits signal the dawn of the festival. The Sinhala and Tamil New Year dawns as the sun moves from the ‘Meena Rashi’(House of Pisces) to the ‘Mesha Rashi’(House of Aries). The Sinhala and Tamil New Year known as the Sun Festival is a ritual performed to honour the Sun God.

The cultural festival strengthens the family ties and fosters togetherness, creating more opportunities for us to renew our human relations. We forget our past angers and share positive thoughts with one another on this auspicious day. In most villages people share plates of milk rice with each other.

It has to be mentioned that many years ago we had no conflicts with the Tamils and the Muslims because of cultural events like new year. The key element of this cultural festival is togetherness. It is the time to forget hatred and start new friendships with each other.

At present, there is a political divide in the country. We fight for politicians and lose our long lasting friendships in this rat race. On the new year day we forget such political labels and ensure the strength of social relations. In addition, it is evident that the commonest word in this traditional festival is ‘New’. People prepare a new hearth, use new earthenware for cooking rice, purchase new clothes and clean their homes.

In the past, villagers built their homes out of cow-dung and wattle and daub. If we change only the ink without going for a new brush, there will be no new creations. Not only with traditional ideas but also with new innovative ideas and concepts, we have to fill our minds.


The Sinhala and Tamil New Year enriches our lives, our culture and our vocabulary in many ways by adding values to the culture and shaping our mindsets.

For instance, we show our respect to our parents, grandparents and relatives by offering sheaves of betel in the new year. It is clear that the dawn of the Sinhala and Tamil new year is calculated with astrological precision.

The New Year rituals begin with the observance of ‘Nonegathe’. During the Nonegathe people stop their house work and go to temples for religious rituals. Speaking of the hearth, cow dung is required to build the hearth. There is an auspicious time for lighting the hearth.

Another important fact is that all family members clad in new clothes perform the rituals. According to Hindu mythology, the god for peace known as Indradeva descends upon the earth to ensure peace and happiness among people.

The colour which God wears always varies each year. During the ‘Nonagathe’, we have to do religious activities. In villages people can be seen going to the temples. Children stop reading books during the ‘Nonagathe’. We can spend quality time with our family members during the Nonagathe at home.

The national festival reinforces values such as faith, integrity, personal responsibility and freedom. In villages where we can witness the former glory of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year people perform ‘Ganu-Denu’ with the well in their home gardens. The oil anointing ceremony plays a vital role. The temple known as the heart of the village organizes the oil-anointing ceremony with all devotees.

‘Aluth Avurudu’ table

on this auspicious day. The traditional oil lamp which is lit by all family mThe ‘Aluth Avurudu’ table is the symbol of reunion. All family members sit around the table and share kiribath and sweetmeats with others in the family, renewing family ties. Neither do we forget to share a plate of Kiribath with our neighboursembers brings new hopes and prosperity to the whole family.

The aroma of banana and sweetmeats such as ‘Kevum’, ‘Kokis’, ‘Athiraha’ and ‘Asmi’ blended with the fragrance of blooming flowers wafting in the breeze. The treacle based sweets can be said to be more significant and popular.

The tradition of boiling milk

The tradition of boiling milk plays a significant role on all special occasions and cultural events. Fresh milk is boiled in a clay pot as a symbol of prosperity and good luck. When the thick white milk overflows, putting out the hissing fire, all the family members who gather around the pot of milk rejoice. Our hearts are filled with new hopes for a brighter future, good luck and prosperity.The tradition of boiling milk ensures the renewal and reaffirmation of goodwill within families.

Aluth Avurudu games

There can be found traditional games and fun activities related to the Sinhala and Tamil new year. One of the most popular traditional games is riding the ‘Onchilla’ to the rhythm of ‘Onchili waram sung by girls dressed in Redda and hetta.

There can be one or two children seated on the swing and one person keeps on swaying the swing back and forth while singing the ‘Onchili waram’. Not only children but also youths enjoy riding on the swing (Onchilla) in the New Year.

Apart from that, we can witness many games such as searching for the hidden guest, placing the eye on the elephant, lemon on a spoon race, pillow fight (Kotta pora), climbing up the greasy pole, bursting balloons and rope pulling games.

The main objective behind all these traditional games is the sharing of love and kindness with each other. Most villagers play tunes on Rabana with their neighbours. Beaming smiles on the people’s faces are noticeable on this day. No doubt that the new year is an opportunity for us to revitalize our family bonds and friendships with all.

Fireworks which light up the starry sky fill our hearts with excitement. In the new year we find the whole village to be a celestial place adorned with flowers and filled with floral fragrance. When the Sinhala and Tamil New Year celebrations come to an end, the eventful atmosphere in the village is felt for weeks and months.