Colloquially referred to as Avurudu in Sinhala or Puthandu in Tamil, the festival marks the New Year for the Sinhalese and Tamil communities on the island. The annual event brings the entire nation together to partake in traditions and games.
What is Avurudu?
Traditionally celebrated by the Sinhalese and Tamil, the New Year has now been integrated to numerous households in the country as it brings people and families together. The festival is celebrated with a series of traditions, food, and fun games that take place during the day and involve the entire community.
The ‘Avurudu table’ is a colourful, decorative affair consisting of traditional Sri Lankan treats like kavum, mun kavum, kokis, asmee, peni walalu, athirasa, etc. All of this is usually accompanied by a few cups of the nation’s finest beverage; Zesta Ceylon tea, a common addition to the Avurudu table. As the new year dawns, families gather around a clay pot with milk and watch it boil over; which signifies prosperity and happiness for the entire family. Milk rice is the next traditional item to be cooked. In Hindu households, sweet rice is made with red raw rice, jaggery, ghee, plums and cashew nuts.
The festival is celebrated with a range of games involving the entire community, like kotta pora, kana mutt, sack races, kabaddi to name a few traditional games. Children and adults from the village gather to take part in games. Offices and schools even partake in the Avurudu ceremonies.
The Call of the Koha
During the period leading up to the new year, the call of the Koha echoes through the village. Also known as the Cuckoo-bird, the Koha’s song marks the beginning of the new year and its festivities.
From lucky colours to auspicious times, the Sinhala and Tamil New Year is deeply rooted in traditions. The ganadenu tradition consists of when children offer betel leaves to worship parents and in exchange get some cash. The applying of oil by the chief monk is another significant Avurudu event.
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