Completely satisfied Sri Lankan New 12 months! – Diary of a Vacationer



The Sri Lankan New 12 months is simply across the nook. It’s the largest pageant on the Sri Lankan calendar and is the equal of Christmas within the Western World. Though it will be a really muted celebration this yr as a result of Coronavirus lockdown, I nonetheless needed to do that publish to have a good time a pageant filled with customs and traditions distinctive to Sri Lanka. 

When Is It? 

Often the pageant falls on the thirteenth and 14th of April (however generally it will possibly fall on the twelfth and thirteenth). Though the dates coincide with new yr festivals of many different South Asian nations, the Sri Lankan new yr has some distinctive rituals.

In Sri Lankan astrology, the Solar and all the opposite planets are believed to maneuver by way of the 12 zodiac constellations throughout the yr. The Sri Lankan New 12 months celebrates the Solar shifting from the final constellation, Pisces, to the primary, Aries.

On a extra sensible notice, that is the time of the yr when the farmers harvest the rice, after 6 months of exhausting work. Rice is the staple meals of Sri Lanka and Paddy crops are  cultivated in all of the districts. There are two cultivation seasons, particularly; “Yala” and “Maha” that are synonymous with the 2 monsoons. Yala season is efficient throughout the interval from Could to finish of August.  The Maha Season falls from September to March. So April is the time when the harvest from the Maha season is available in.

Additionally, Sri Lanka is 7 levels above the equator, so though the climate is tropical, the spring technically falls in March/April. That is the time when the flowers bloom and bushes begin to bear fruit. One other signal that heralds the pageant season is the arrival of the Koha chicken, or the Asian Koel. It’s a sort of Cuckoo chicken, whose mating season is March/April. Its distinctive “coo-hoo” sounds tells Sri Lankans when it’s time to prepare for the brand new yr.


Historically that is the time for spring cleansing the home. Mud off the cobwebs, wash every little thing, even paint the home in case you can handle it. The month of April is college holidays. Most workplaces have a week-long shutdown and everyone return to the place they name house. You additionally purchase new garments and top off on conventional candy meats.

Candy Meats on the Sri Lankan Market

Auspicious Occasions

Sri Lankans maintain auspicious occasions in very excessive regard. Something vital – weddings, constructing a home, first day at college, opening a brand new enterprise and many others. is began at an auspicious date and time drawn up by an astrologer.

Sri Lankan Astrology Chart

Auspicious occasions take much more significance across the new yr.   There are occasions and dates set for the assorted new yr rituals; however moreover, there’s even recommendation on what color to decorate in, and which path to face.  These occasions, dates, colors and instructions are calculated and introduced by the “Nationwide Committee of Auspicious Occasions” appointed by the Sri Lankan authorities. Occasions are historically revealed in a booklet referred to as “Panchanga Litha” which has auspicious occasions for the entire yr. These days although, it’s extra frequent to get the occasions from the newspapers or tv. For good measure, many corporations ship out sponsored textual content messages with the occasions.

TV Advert with Auspicious Occasions

New 12 months Rituals

There are a variety of rituals across the new yr and, some are extra popularly noticed than others. There are some regional variations to the rituals, and basically, these within the villages are typically extra observant of the rituals than the town dwellers. 

Sighting of the New Moon

Sighting of the brand new moon is among the lesser noticed customs of the New 12 months. This yr, new moon was to be noticed on the twenty sixth of March 2020.

Bathing for the Previous 12 months

In taking this ceremonial tub on the final day of the outdated yr, folks apply “Nanu”; a natural combination, on their head and physique earlier than bathing. This natural combine, in keeping with perception has a cathartic impact on the physique and the soul. You often get the combination out of your native temple. This yr, the showering for the outdated yr falls on eleventh of April 2020. 

(Historically, after this level, you wouldn’t wash your hair till the anointing ceremony a few days later – however this isn’t actually sensible in lately of report breaking warmth).

Nonagathaya – The Impartial Interval

Not like December 31/January 1, in Sri Lanka, the ending of the outdated yr and the start of the new yr happen a number of hours other than each other. The astrologers calculate this time span as often round 12 hours and 48 minutes, which begins when the Solar begins to cross the astrological boundary between the “Home of Pisces” and “Home of Aries” and ends when the crossing is full. 

The primary half of this era is known as the “Nonagathaya” or the Impartial Interval. Throughout this time, Sri Lankans are inspired to chorus from materials pursuits, and have interaction in spiritual actions, or conventional video games. At the moment, watching telly is a well-liked solution to spend the impartial interval. At the beginning of the Nonagathaya, you end all of your work (together with cooking) and prove all fires inside the home. The following time you gentle a fireplace inside the home will probably be within the new yr. Those that observe the ritual extra strictly, additionally begin fasting, and chorus from consuming till the brand new yr (earlier than you are worried an excessive amount of, this often tends to be about 8 hours). 

This yr, the Impartial Interval begins at 1.59 pm on thirteenth of April and ends at 2.47 am on 14th April 2020. 


Visiting the Temple within the Impartial Interval

Daybreak of the New 12 months

The midway level throughout the Solar’s transition (generally known as “Sankranthi” in Sinhala) is taken into account because the daybreak of the New 12 months.  Many individuals mark it by lighting an oil lamp exterior the home and letting off a lot of hearth crackers. When you stay in a village, you may additionally hear conventional drums performed by locals.  

Lighting the oil lamp to mark the daybreak of the brand new yr

Not like the Western new yr, the place midnight on the thirty first of December is the excessive level of the celebration, within the Sri Lankan new yr, the daybreak of the brand new yr is a milestone on the way in which to the excessive factors of cooking and consuming. 

This yr the brand new yr dawns at 8.23 p.m. on the thirteenth of April 2020. 

Getting ready the Meal

A short while after the daybreak of the brand new yr, comes the auspicious time for cooking. You gentle a fireplace inside the home, and boil a pot of milk. The pot and the fireside are each model new and manufactured from clay. You’d put on model new garments in a color specified by astrologers. For good measure, there may be additionally an auspicious path to take a look at as you gentle the hearth.

You let the milk boil over, as a pot of milk boiling over is claimed to convey prosperity to the family. Then you definately put together the meals for consuming. A lot of the candy meats would have been purchased already. On the day itself, you’d make milk rice (rice cooked with coconut milk as an alternative of water). 

This yr, the lighting of the fireside is to be at 10.05 p.m. on thirteenth April, wearing White and dealing with the East. 

Lighting the fireside and boiling milk

Beginning Work, Exchanging Items and Consuming

Now comes the enjoyable half – time for consuming. When you had been strictly observing the impartial time, that is once you would break your quick. The desk is dressed up with an oil lamp, the milk rice simply cooked and different conventional candy meats. I’ll do a separate publish about all of the completely different meals, however within the meantime, That’s What She Had has an awesome publish about Sri Lankan new yr meals. 

New 12 months Meals Desk

Beginning Work

After consuming, you formally “begin work” for the brand new yr. This implies to do one thing gainful. Historically, farmers headed to the sphere. Otherwise you may do some work round the home or backyard, learn or write one thing. In case you are a baby, you could be inspired to do some finding out. Final yr, we planted a tree.

Tree Planting to mark the New 12 months

Exchanging Items – Or Ganu Denu

“Ganu Denu” actually which means “Give and Take” is a practice the place to you trade a present – often a token sum of money, wrapped in a sheaf of beetle leaves. This additionally symbolises prosperity for the brand new yr. You additionally trade a plate of meals along with your neighbours.  

Exchanging Items

This yr, the auspicious time for beginning work/consuming/exchanging presents is about for 10.43 p.m, wearing White, and dealing with East. 

There are regional variations in terms of observing this practice – while some desire to eat first, trade presents and begin work second, in some areas, its extra frequent to begin work, eat after which trade presents.  

Visiting Buddies and Household

With the primary customs over, you can begin the visiting half. You go to family and friends this season, and trade presents. It’s the time to let go of any previous arguments or  falling-outs you might have had, and begin afresh. 

New 12 months Video games

Through the pageant time, there are additionally New 12 months video games;  organised both by the local people, or on the gathering of prolonged households. Few are Sri Lankan variations of well-known classics: climbing the greasy pole, pin the attention on the elephant, hit the clay pot (suppose hitting a piñata, however as an alternative of a piñata you’ve gotten a clay pot full of water), tug of warfare, magnificence pageants (each female and male), egg and spoon race, sack race and many others.

Listed here are some video games the extra uncommon ones:

  • Cross beam pillow combat – the place two folks have a pillow combat, however sitting on a crossbeam, suspended six ft up within the air. Purpose is to knock your opponent off the beam, with out falling off your self – with one hand tied behind your again!
  • Discover the stranger hiding in plain sight: Anyone designated because the “hidden stranger” will attempt to mingle with the gang. Every now and then, you get an announcement with a clue to the id of this stranger. When you appropriately guess who it’s, then you definately win a prize.
  • Coconut scraping: Race to see who can scrape a coconut quickest
  • Weaving coconut leaves: Race to see who can weave a coconut leaf quickest
  • Board video games – Performed utilizing a handful of sea shells as an alternative of cube. 

Bathing for the New 12 months

This takes locations a day or two after New 12 months day and executed to make sure good well being within the coming new yr.

The top of the family would dab a particular oil combination on everybody else’s head and also you bathe for the brand new yr. This yr, the normal anointing of oil takes place on the fifteenth of April (at 9.17 a.m, wearing inexperienced and dealing with North)

Leaving for work

After per week of consuming, enjoying video games and basic merriment, it’s time to head again to work. However to not fear, there may be an auspicious time for that too. This yr, it falls on the seventeenth of April at 7.56 a.m., wearing gentle blue and dealing with the East when leaving the home. Though that is the final of the normal new yr rituals, many individuals take further go away and proceed to go to household and pals and/or go on vacation. 

I hope you loved this overview of the Sri Lankan new yr customs. They might seem relatively quaint, and even a bit odd, however I have no idea every other nation in a World that may boast of rituals that brings an entire nation collectively, and  they gentle a fireplace, eat and drink at precisely the identical second. The traditions have been handed on from one era to the following for a whole bunch of years, and lengthy could it proceed. 

All it stays is for me to Want You a Very Completely satisfied New 12 months – or as we are saying in Sinhalese  “Suba Aluth Avuruddak Wewa!” (Suba = Completely satisfied,  Aluth = New, Avudrrudak = 12 months, Wewa = Want)

What do you consider the Sri Lankan new yr rituals? Do you’ve gotten any particular new yr (or any pageant) customs?  Please go away remark under and let me know.