Festive fever everywhere
Nestled in natural surroundings, the farmers are active with the
golden harvest of the Maha Season. Majestic trees are full of greenery
with numerous fresh fruits like cashew and mango.
Erabadu trees are in full bloom with dazzling flowers. Swings for
children is a common sight in the village environment. The cuckoo in his
ringing tone is heralding their message to the much awaited crowds for
the dawn of their mighty wish - to celebrate the feast of feasts.
Against this scenic backdrop emerges the most blissful day - The Sinhala
- Hindu New Year. The joyous national festival said to be the oldest
Sinhala Hindu New Year is celebrated the world over by their
respective races but enjoyed by the others too. This is the most
looked-forward-to event in the early part of a year, coming down from
generations. This national festival falls in April once in a 365 day
cycle considering the transition of the sun from Meena rashi (Pisces) to
Mesha rashi (Aries) as an auspicious event. This is most welcome news to
both Buddhists and Hindus in Sri Lanka, which has been given pride of
place in the calendar.
History records that this event was celebrated with pomp and grandeur
by the ancient royalty. This has come down the ages adding charm and
splendour. Also, the role played by the New Year is reflected in the
annals of history reviving the national and cultural heritage of the
country. New Year celebrations are always attracted by local and
cultural traditions upholding indigenous social fabric. There is always
a conscious effort among the elderly to preserve the indigenous customs.
The events connected with the New Year are many. In both town and
village they paint, whitewash and refurbish their houses and prepare for
the occasion in a big way. There is festive fever everywhere, buying
gifts new clothes and other requirements.
The excitement of the village, the young is beyond explanation. For
the hard working males, the young, it is a short break from the busy
urban life, visiting parents and relatives and enjoying the delightful
The village is a hive of activity. Specially the women folk preparing
traditional sweetmeats and cuisine, bedum and pickles with Avurudu
flavour, in short spreading new year scent throughout the house
radiating happiness, joy and cheer. To the young, particularly children,
it is a time of sport and fun.
They engage themselves in games such as swinging, Pancha demeema,
kotta pora, climbing the grease pole, tug-o'-war, gudu and also games
using cashew nuts. April or Bak Maha has gone down history as the month
of delight and prosperity.
This national festival is celebrated islandwide in festive spirit
with a series of traditional games organised and enjoyed by the youth.
It is nothing but Bak Maha Ulela. This is significant to one and all as
everyone awaits with great eagerness the dawn of the New Year.
April also ushers in its countless blessings as regards household
traditions with peace and joy in their hearts and hearths. As mentioned
earlier the travelling route of the sun has a great importance
determining the auspicious times, which are observed to the very letter.
The New Year table is laid carefully for the entire family to enjoy
food at an auspicious time. Worshipping the parents and respecting the
elders come next. Greeting them with a sheaf of betel, they go down on
their knees for the purpose. Money transactions (ganu denu) are also
done at the same time.
They make a visit to the temple too. During 'Nonagathe' time
Buddhists seek the compassion of the Buddha to lead a happy and peaceful
These are things that speak silently about the New Year, which has
become an impressive event of cultural value.