What is Puthandu?
Puthandu, also known as Tamil New Year, is a festival celebrated by Tamilians in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in Sri Lanka. It falls on the first day of the Tamil month of Chithirai, which usually falls on April 14th in 2023 but it can vary since it’s based on a different calendar.
The celebration of Puthandu is associated with the spring season, which symbolizes new beginnings and the renewal of life. The festival is traditionally celebrated by decorating houses with flowers, drawing intricate kolams or rangolis at the entrance of houses, and preparing special dishes. People wear new clothes and offer prayers to the deities.
One of the main traditions of Puthandu is the preparation of the Pachadi, a dish made with neem flowers, jaggery, tamarind, mango, and other ingredients. The dish is said to symbolize the different flavors of life – sweet, sour, bitter, and tangy. The neem flowers represent bitterness, tamarind represents sourness, jaggery represents sweetness, and mango represents tanginess. Eating this dish on Puthandu is believed to symbolize the acceptance of all the flavors of life, including the bitter ones.
On Puthandu, people also exchange gifts, visit friends and family, and participate in cultural events like music and dance performances. In Tamil Nadu, people gather in large numbers to watch the traditional processions called “Chithirai Thiruvizha,” which features decorated elephants and chariots carrying the idols of deities.
Puthandu is also marked by various cultural events and performances. In Tamil Nadu, people participate in dance and music performances, including the classical dance form of Bharatanatyam. The festival also sees the participation of musicians, who perform traditional Carnatic music, and theater artists, who stage plays and dramas.
Puthandu, the Tamil New Year, is celebrated with traditional Tamil dishes that are typically vegetarian and rich in flavor. Some of the special dishes made during Puthandu include:
- Maanga Pachadi: A sweet and sour dish made with raw mango, jaggery, neem flowers, and other ingredients. It is usually served as part of a traditional Puthandu meal.
- Payasam: A sweet dessert made with milk, sugar, and a variety of ingredients such as vermicelli, rice, or lentils. It is flavored with cardamom, saffron, and nuts.
- Medu Vada: A savory snack made with urad dal (black gram), onions, and spices. It is usually served with coconut chutney and sambar.
- Sambar: A spicy lentil-based soup that is flavored with tamarind, vegetables, and a blend of South Indian spices. It is typically served with rice or idli.
- Rasam: A tangy soup made with tamarind, tomatoes, and a blend of spices. It is typically served as a side dish with rice.
- Paruppu Thogayal: A chutney made with roasted lentils, coconut, and spices. It is typically served with rice and ghee.
- Poriyal: A vegetable side dish made with chopped vegetables such as beans, carrots, or cabbage, and flavored with mustard seeds, urad dal, and curry leaves.
These dishes are typically served on banana leaves as part of a traditional Puthandu meal. Families and friends gather together to enjoy these special dishes, which are an integral part of the Puthandu celebrations.