Puthandu is also known as Tamil new year. It is the celebration of the first day of the Tamil new year which falls on the first day of the month of ‘Chitteari’ in the Tamil calendar. However, as per the Gregorian calendar, it falls on the 14th of April. Chitterai is the first month of the Tamil solar calendar, and Puthandu marks the arrival of the new year. This day is celebrated with great devotion and fervor in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. Puthandu is also popularly known as ‘Varusha Pirappu.’ Puthandu is celebrated as ‘Vishu’ in Kerala, as ‘Pana Sankranti’ in Odisha, and as ‘Poila Boishak’ in West Bengal. In Assam, it is celebrated as ‘Bihu’ and in Punjab, this day is observed as ‘Vaisakhi.’
Significance of Puthandu:
Puthandu is the day of new beginnings. People celebrate the festival with joy. This day is celebrated with Neem leaves, flowers, and raw mangoes to symbolize growth and prosperity. The auspicious day of Puthandu is celebrated with all over Tamil Nadu. Tamil communities also observe Puthandu as the day when Lord Brahma started the creation of Universe. Some also believe that Lord Indra, the ‘Prince of harmony’ visited earth on the day of Puthandu to certify contentment and amity. In Tamil Nadu, Puthandu is a day of feasting and merrymaking. Tamils celebrate this festival with hope and joy to ensure that the New Year brings growth and opportunities in their lives.
On the eve of Puthandu, a plate is arranged with Mango, banana, jackfruit, betel leaves, areca nuts, gold coins, silver coins, money, flowers and a mirror. This plate has to be viewed early in the morning after waking up. This ritual is known as ‘Kanni,’ The ritual of ‘Kanni brings happiness and prosperity in the new year. The entrance of the house is decorated with elaborate Kolams or rangoli. The middle of Kolam is decorated with ‘Kuhtuvillakku’ which symbolizes a lamp. People take early morning bath and offer Pongal to Gods. People wear new clothes. They also visit temples to seek blessings of God. The young family members and children receive gifts or money from elders on Puthandu. The day of Puthandu is very auspicious to perform Brahman Bhoj. The head priest also reads out the ‘Panchangam.’ Several families also perform the ‘tharpanam’ rituals in remembrance of their ancestors on the day of Puthandu. A car festival is held on the occasion of Puthandu at Tiruvidaimarudur, near Kumbakonam. In Madurai, a huge exhibition known as the Chitterai Porutkaatchi is held at the Meenakshi Amman temple.