Colloquially referred to as Avurudu in Sinhala or Puthandu in Tamil, the festival marks the New Year for the Sinhalese and Tamil communities on the island. The annual event brings the entire nation together to partake in traditions and games.
The sounds of firecrackers and the rhythms of the rabana (a one-sided traditional drum) fill the streets, waking those who slept through the night to signal the dawn of a new beginning - Aluth Avurudu Udawa. The pealing of the bell accompanied with the beating of drums (hewisi) in the village temple announces the times to perform the different rituals, which involve the following
LIGHTING THE HEARTH
The woman of each household will light the hearth, facing the designated direction (which varies every year). Over its flames they will boil milk in a new earthen pot, allowing it to bubble over in a symbol of prosperity & happiness for the entire family. After this, the traditional new year dish, Kiribath—a rice pudding of sorts—is prepared.
In Hindu households, sweet rice is made with red raw rice, jaggery, ghee, plums and cashew nuts.
BLESSING THE ELDERS
After the meal, children will show respect to their elders by offering them lush sheaves of betel as a blessing. In some areas, the elders return this blessing with money, marking the first financial transaction of the New Year. These rituals bring together generations of Sri Lankans for a cherished time of goodwill and friendship.
LOVING THE NEIGHBOURS
Acts of friendship doesn’t just stay within the family, however. Plates of homemade sweetmeats are exchanged between neighbours, with tradition stating that the plates should not be returned empty. Forgetting any resentments of the previous year and ushering in a new start is the underlying message here.
Visiting the local temple to receive the anointing is a vital part of the Sri Lankan New Year. It is thought that anointing one from head to toe purifies both mind and body in a similar manner to the New Year’s eve bath. In this ritual, the temple chief stands upon leaves, roots and flowers, and anoints the oil while chanting shloka or gatha.
The ‘Avurudu table’ is a colourful, decorative affair consisting of traditional Sri Lankan treats like kavum, mun kavum, kokis, asmee, peni walalu, athirasa, etc. All of this is usually accompanied by a few cups of the nation’s finest beverage; Zesta Ceylon tea, a common addition to the Avurudu table.
The Tikiri toys team is also a family, so every year after the holidays. To mark the start of opening the factory again for a new year of business, we perform the same rituals and we get to enjoy all that lovely food again.
This year is going to be a little different for us all, but we can guarantee that once we are all back together and the factory is open we are going to have an even bigger celebration.