The very first day in the Tamil calendar is called Puthandu or Puthuvarusham and celebrated as Tamil New Year. Like the previous year, this year, too, it will be observed on April 14.
The Tamil New Year falls almost on the same day every year in the Gregorian calendar. Puthandu is celebrated on the first day of Chithirai (Tamil month) and it also marks the beginning of the Tamil New Year. On this day, Tamilians greet each other by saying “Puthandu Vazthukal” which means “Happy New Year.”
Puthandu marks a new beginning in people’s lives and on this occasion, people decorate their houses, wear new clothes, perform puja and prepare some traditional new year recipes. On the auspicious day, people pray to God to bless them with health, wealth, peace and prosperity. The day of celebration is celebrated with feasts and get-togethers.
According to belief and traditions, on the eve of Varashu Pirappu/Puthandu, a platter is arranged by people with different fruits and vegetables along with Neem flowers and leaves, new clothes, jewellery and some cash. The platter is then placed in front of the mirror in the temple room of the house.
On the day of Putthandu, people see the reflection of platter which primarily symbolises prosperity.
The family together prepares to pray after taking a bath and putting on new clothes. Following the prayer, families sit around for a lavish meal. Pacchadi is a must have delicacy on this day. A type of raita, Pacchadi has ingredients like raw mango, jaggery, salt, red chillies, neem leaves, turmeric and oil. This dish is considered special because of the raw material that goes in it.
The ingredients of Pacchadi are said to symbolise the various emotions an individual undergoes in their day to day life. It suggests that life is a mixed bag of emotions and experiences. For example, neem is for bitterness, jaggery for sweetness, raw mango for sourness etc.
Vadai, samabhar, sadam, payasam, appalam, vegetable curry, fresh mango pickle, curd are among the other items that are a part of the day’s feast.