Sinhalese New Year Rituals
Sinhalese New Year or Aluth Avurudhu rituals begin with observance of Nonagathe. At this time, people consider it to be inauspicious to engage in any activity. They go to temples and perform religious rites to receive the blessings of the priests. Women in villages congregate to play rabana (drums) to announce the time to start performing New Year rituals.
People begin the New Year by taking a ceremonial bath on the last day of the old year. They apply Nanu (a herbal mixture) on their head and body before bathing. This herbal is supposed to purify the body and soul.
Another custom of offering betel to the parents and elders is considered as a token of love and gratitude. Elders feel accepted and cared by their children and give them blessings in return.
New Year Cuisine
Food is the essential part of New Year festivities in Sri Lanka. Sinhalese food is very rich in nutrition. They prepare sweet meats such as mung kavum, konda kavum and unduvel. There is also an old tradition of preparing Kiri Bhaat (milk rice) with rice from new crop. It is prepared by the father or the male head of the family. All the family members sit together to enjoy the lavish feast on the New Year’s day.
New Year Celebrations in Sri Lanka
Sinhalese get their houses whitewashed and thoroughly cleaned to bid farewell to the bygone and to welcome the New Year. They light and decorate the house on the New Year’s day. It is considered inauspicious to decorate the house before the New Year.
The main New Year’s day begin with the lighting of hearth. Then the family members wear new clothes and exchange New Year gifts with each other. For some Aluth Avurudhu is the day to venture into new business while for some it is the time to get their daughters married.
A famous game called Guddu (similar to cricket or baseball) is played with excitement by children as well as adults. Another game is also played with coconuts where you try to hit others’ coconuts. Some also play cards on this festive occasion.
People of Sri Lanka love to visit their relatives and friends house to gift them sweets like kavum, kokos and other auspicious gifts. The festivities come to an end with the anointing of the oil ceremony. In this auspicious hour, an elder anoints the young with herbal oil. Sinhalese also set an auspicious time to go to work.