When the sun moves from Pisces to Aries, the Sinhalese Buddhist and Tamil Hindus in Sri Lanka join forces to celebrate Aluth Avurudda – their mutual new year.
This is also coincides with the time when the harvest ends, so the colorful fruit from the trees is collected in bulk to fuel the week long celebrations. Festivities are prepared well in advance and most of the country grinds to a halt as hundreds travel home to be with their families and stores close down in their wake – it can be impossible to track down the simplest of things just before it all starts.
The rituals begin with the cleaning of the house and lighting of an oil lamp, and woman congregate to bash on the raban (drum) to warn others of the incipient change in the year. If you fail to hear this, a storm, firecrackers is bound to hammer the point home. Families indulge in a variety of rituals which are carefully determined by astrological calculations-from lighting the fire to making the kiri bath (milk rice) bath, to entering into the first business transaction and eating the first morsels.
Once these are done, the partying really begins as families mingle in the streets, homes are thrown open and children are left out to play. The ubiquitous planting is dished out alongside celebratory feasts of kaung (small oil cake) and kokis (small and light sweetmeat, originally from Netherlands).
Aluth Auvrudda has become an important national holidays for both the cultures of the Sinhalese Buddhists and the Tamil Hindu Sri Lankans, and is unique as such , as it is not celebrated elsewhere in the world.
If you are planning to visit Sri Lanka during this time of the year, please speak to your accommodation provider/ tour guide to see any events around. You will be able to participate in traditional Sinhala games and experience the essence of Sri Lanka.