For generations Sri Lankans have been celebrating their highly cultural and traditional Sinhalese New Year festival named “Aluth Avurudda (අලුත් අවුරුද්ද)” in high spirits. It is a festival that has its own unique vibrance of Sri Lankan cuisine, traditional games, multi-colour outfits and a season where nature is in its full bloom bearing fruits and attracting birds of all kinds. Worldwide Sinhala Buddhist communities, especially the Sri Lankan residents celebrate their new year by connecting with their families in a two-week long holiday, driving back home long distance to rekindle their family bonds where the extended families spend the holidays at their childhood home reminiscing the good old times spent within those walls. Similar to Christmas period, Sinhalese new year has its own rhythms that are commonly narrated in positive and up beat melodies.

The Sri Lankan Sinhalese and Tamil New Year is a time for gift sharing, preparing traditional sweets such as Kavum, Kokis, Pani Walalu that are mostly made from wheat flour hence it is healthy and delicious. The traditions are such that families, especially mothers get together during this season make all sweets from their own hands adding a flavour of love that enrich its taste. One of the key icons of this Sinhalese New Year is a sweet table, also known as Kavili table. It consists of all kinds of traditional Sri Lankan sweets, accompanied with jaggery infused milk rice and a banana plantation. This table also has a small oil lamp that is lit before consumption of the meals. One of the main features of Sinhalese new year is conducting tasks according to pre-set auspicious times. They have a specific time to bathe for the old year, lit the stove to prepare the milk rice, eat, conduct money transactions and leave for work. They even have a specific main colour for each year where all are advised to wear to attract prosperity where this year being the colour of blue.

Sri Lankans host a series of games that are exclusively done during their new year period which are filled with fun and laughter. This tradition occurred as during old times, villagers used to get together as host avurudu games allowing all residents to participate, make memories and win prizes. These games include tug of war, breaking pots, playing the rabanna, pillow fight, going on the swing, spoon race, greased pole climbing, scraping of coconuts, bun eating concept, weaving coconut leaves etc. During this period as extended families are under roof a lot of traditional board games are played such as Pancha Keliya, Nerenchi and Checkers. The ideal avurudu setting of a home is young ladies sit on a woven mat and play board games whilst the young lads is outside playing folklore games with their uncles and the mothers and aunt occupy the kitchen busy preparing sweets and dishes for the avurudu table. One of the most popular games is the beauty pageant to select the most outstanding and beautiful princess and prince. Whilst these games are conducted wearing traditional new year outfits were lungi and blouse for girls and sarong and shirt for boys. In modern context, most of the corporates hold avurudu celebration as a part of their annual calendar and even go to the extent of sponsoring large scale avurudu games hosted by local broadcasting channels.

Shopping for avurudu has undoubtedly being a must-do in everyone’s calendar as almost all the clothing stores are jam packed during the Sinhalese new year as people purchase new clothes and accessories for themselves and for gifting purposes. Hence, similar to Christmas avurudu has become a season where Sri Lankans renew all their current belongings to better attract wealth and prosperity to their homes. Unity, harmony, togetherness and joy is at the brim during this season as it is a time of holidays where everybody enjoy their time with their families in peace. The origin of the season commenced as a reflection of sun’s movement from House of Pisces (Meena rashiya) to House of Aries (Mesha rashiya), thus the celebration starts on 13th of April with a neutral period (nonagathe which is also considered as inauspicious time where many during this period refrain from conducting any activity other than visiting temples and other religious activities). Sinhala and Tamil New Year consists of rituals performed in honour of the God of the Sun.

Sinhalese new year has been a remarkable time that attracts many tourists to this nation as they prefer to get involved in traditional activities during this season and tastes traditional gourmet cuisines. Majority of the hotels in Sri Lanka big and small host Avurudu celebrations to provide a novel experience for its guests during this season. Predominantly during this season lot of Sri Lankans go on trips with family and friends making use of the long holiday. So, if you are planning on visiting Sri Lanka, make sure to arrange your trip during this season to better engulf in traditional celebrations and create memories for a lifetime. It brings about a novel experience of joy and laughter in the hearts and minds of all who are celebrating and who do not as Sri Lankans are in jovial moods spreading that extra hospitality and happiness to their guests as well. As Sri Lankans follow Theravada Buddhism, majority of the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year traditions and customs such as auspicious times are inspired by its background. Due to the very reason in Sri Lanka only the Buddhist mainly celebrate New year whilst other minor religious communities such as Catholics, Muslims and Hindus do not get involved in such celebrations despite it being a Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

As Avurudu implies blessings of prosperity, wealth and happiness to all, we also earnestly wish that this dawn of the Sinhalese and Tamil new year delivers all the happiness and prosperity for all your life activities and that this season may become a moment of rejuvenation and refinement that unifies the lost bonds with your family and friends.

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