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Sunday, 7 April 2013





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

The Sinhala and Hindu New Year

The Sinhala and Hindu New Year (avurudu), is celebrated on April 13th - 14th . This is a special time in Sri Lanka. The larders are full since the harvest has just been collected, the trees are full of flowers, homes are freshly painted and it is time for festivities. Children next week by now it will be Avurudu time . A time for enjoyment and a time to show love and affection to elders. This is a special time when families get-together.

The precise times when the old year ends, and the new year begins, (most times the two do not coincide) are calculated by astronomers, and is generally announced by the peal of temple bells. Everything during this time must be performed at precise times (nakatha), and in the prescribed way.

The first lighting of the hearth, start of work, first transaction, first meal and first application of oil to hair, to name a few are all done according to nekath times. In between these rituals, the time is spent playing games, visiting friends and relatives, enjoying the many sweetmeats that are made for the occasion, and generally having a great time.

Music and poetry has always been a part of village life in Sri Lanka, and what better time to enjoy some singing and merry making than the avurudu festival?. Poetry contests, or contests between teams of drummers between adjoining villages are common during these celebrations, Village beauties play the rabana, a one sided drum, somewhat like an enormous tambourine. Sometimes the older folk also engage in playing the rabana.

In April (the month of Bak), when the sun moves from the Meena Rashiya (House of Pisces) to the Mesha Rashiya (House of Aries) in the celestial sphere; Sri Lankans celebrate Aluth Avurudu(in Sinhala) and Puththandu (in Tamil). It marks the end of the harvest season and also coincides with one of two instances when the sun is directly above Sri Lanka. On the day of celebrations, the sun is directly above Koggala (where a Sun devale can be found). A new year of the Saka era begins with each festival. The nonagathe or punyakale, the neutral period, unlike western traditions the ending of the old year and the beginning of the new year occur several hours apart from one another(this span is determined by astrology as well). The Sri Lankan New Year dawns with times drawn out by astrological signs.

During the nonagathe according to custom people refrain from doing any activity and engage in religious activities and traditional games.

Avurudu games

There are traditional games people engage in during the festive season and more often than not they start before the dawn of the new year and continue till much after. The sound of crackers,nila, ahasgundu as well as the sounds of the raban and joyous laughter, especially of children mingles with the melodious call of the koel during this time.

Like all the age-old rituals connected with the New Year these games are enjoyed by one and all. Then there are Avurudu Ulelas, where many people participate in the traditional games.

These games are different to the games played at other times. Pancha keliya, onchili pedeema, kalagedi sellama, olinda keliya and porapol geheema, mallawa pora, ali pora, gon pora, lanupora addima, rilapeti pedima, daadu gasima are some of the games played during this time. They bring fun and joy and at the same time teach us the value of team spirit.

Pancha Keliya

This is a popular game. Pancha is played with five small seashells, a coconut shell, and a chart. Players are divided into two groups. Onchili pedeema is famous among women, where a swing is tied on a strong branch of a tree in the garden. Sometimes there are two people seated on the swing while another person keeps swaying the swing back and fro while singing special verses known as onchili waram, also known as known as varang kavi .Kanamutti bindeema, is a festive game and mainly seen in Avurudu Ulelas. Here a row of pots are hung while the participants are blindfolded and select the pot which contains a specific item. The winner is the person who hits the correct pot.

‘Putting the eye to the elephant’, is an enjoyable experience where participants are blindfolded and have to spot the elephant’s eye. Then there is Olinda Keliya and this is the verse sung during this time,

“Olinda thibenne koi koi dese,
Olinda thibenne bangali dese.......
Genth handanne koi koi dese,
Genath handanne Sinhala dese...

Two players participate in this game where nine holes are placed on either side of a horizontal board. The player who collects the most number of seeds is the winner.Beating the rabana to the tune of “Dontha babakkata denna deyakna,Pettagamak uda thutu dekak atha”Children play the rabana to different raban pada.Then there is the bun eating competition where a row of buns is strung on a line and has to be eaten without the use of the hands.

There are many more festive games and many people from grown ups to children take part in these games.

Throughout the festive season various activities connected with auspicious times are carried out. On most occasions the whole family joins in.

Lissana gaha nageema
(climbing the grease pole)

A very long timber pole made from a puwak tree, about 10 metres high, is fixed into the ground. At the top of the pole money is placed or sometimes just a flag.Toddy tappers climb coconut trees on a daily basis with ease. However the pole has been rubbed with thick slimy grease along its whole length. The first person to climb to the top claims the money.However, repeated attempts are made with some of the grease being removed on each attempt until finally, when all the grease has been removed, the last person can climb to the top and claim the money.


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