How to Enjoy the National New Year in Sri Lanka
For travellers who happen to time their vacations to Sri Lanka during the month of April, you?ll be heading straight into national New Year festivities. In Sri Lanka, residents celebrate the New Year twice a year – once on December 31 and the other in April. The national New Year also called the ?Aluth Avurudda? is a colourful time that allows locals to revisit their traditional roots. To understand the true meaning behind this festive season read on for our guide on New Year traditions.
Everything Is New
During the new year season it is not unusual to see pottery makers selling their wares on the pavement. It is considered part of tradition to do away with old cooking utensils and replace them with new ones. The same goes for clothes. When the ?New Year dawns, celebrants are expected to wear new clothes in the New Year colours picked astrologically. Exchanging of gifts and visiting relatives is the norm.
A Time for Family and Neighbours
The core of the new year festivities essentially begin in the home, with the boiling of milk. This practice of boiling milk is considered as an outward symbol of a new beginning and of?goodwill for the home. Alot of preparations goes into getting ready for the big day. A lot of the traditions are dictated to by astrological timings and as such everyone in the island follows the same timings.
Auspicious Timing and Traditions
Before the new year dawns, sweetmeats and food are prepared for the big day. There is a gap in time when the old year ends and the new one dawns, this period is called ?Nona gathaya. During this time no work must be undertaken as it is considered bad luck. Once the new year dawns milk is boilt and milk rice (Kiribath) is cooked at the auspicious time. The first meal that is eaten is milk rice and thereafter plates of food are filled and sent to neighbouring homes as a token of the festivities. Children greet their parents as well as elders with cash or money wrapped in betel leaves. This exchange is called Ganu Denu.
Games and Playing of Drums
If there is one thing about the New Year festivities that is enjoyed the most by locals is the games and playing of a drum called a ‘rabanaya’. Usually played by ladies, dressed in traditional outfits, the women gather side by side and beat the drum while reciting songs. The drum’s surface is quite large and players sit around its huge spherical frame. In very traditional villages, communities and families come together to take part in the games like tug-o war, pillow fights, coconut scraping contest and much more.
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