New Year Celebrations in Different Regions of India
While every country in the world celebrates New Year’s Day on 1st January, India celebrates it numerous times throughout the year depending on the calendar followed (lunar or solar), religious beliefs practiced, and the region in consideration. So, let's take a look at some of the most popular New Year celebrations in India.
Baisakhi is a harvest festival and the Sikh New Year's Day that is predominantly celebrated in Punjab. This festival, like many other Punjabi celebrations, is colourful and boisterous and includes a lot of food, dance, and music.
The word Baisakhi is derived from the word 'Vaisakh,'which is the second month of the Hindu calendar. This is the time when the farmers in the northern part of India have harvested the crops and are preparing for the next sowing. Every year, people celebrate Baisakhi on 13th April, but after every 36 years, it falls on 14th April.
On this day, Gurudwaras are decorated for the arrival of hundreds of devotees. Sikhs take a holy dip in the nearby ponds or lakes and wear traditional festive attire. Nagar Kirtan procession is carried out in various parts of the state. Many Gurudwaras also host a food charity known as Langar Seva.
The festival also commemorates Guru Gobind Singh's founding of the Khalsa Panth in 1699 and the unfortunate incident at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab, when a British officer, General Dyer, opened fire on thousands of unarmed Indians in 1919.
2. Bohag Bihu
Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu is the most popular festival of Assam celebrated to welcome the spring season. The Assamese New Year generally starts on 15th April. The first month is known as ‘Bohag’ also the reason why it’s called Bohag Bihu. The original name is Rongali Bihu, derived from the word ‘Rong’ which means happiness and celebrations.
The festival lasts three days. The first day is dedicated to the cattle as cows and bulls are the means of livelihood. The cattle are bathed and decorated with flowers, and their old ropes are cut down. They are allowed to freely graze in any farm for an entire day and then tied by new ropes known as 'Pogha' in the evening.
The second day is called 'Manuh Bihu.' Dishes made of flattened rice, jaggery, and curd are eaten. Prayers are offered, and ‘Bihu Husori’ (carols sung by elders) is formally inaugurated in Namghar (prayer hall). The third day is called 'Gosain Bihu' and is dedicated to the deities.
3. Gudi Padwa
Gudi Padwa is a festival celebrated in Maharashtra on the first day of the month Chaitra. The festival marks the traditional New Year for Marathi and Konkani Hindus.
On this day, a Gudi is hoisted in the house. It is a special type of flag in which a new saree is pleated on a bamboo stick and ornamented with a flower garland, sugar garland, mango and neem leaves, and an overturned copper pot. The Gudi is then worshipped, as according to Hindu beliefs, it brings good fortune.
Ugadi, also known as 'Chandramana Ugadi,' refers to the beginning of New Year according to the Hindu lunar calendar that usually falls in April or March and is a popular festival in Karnataka. The word Ugadi is derived from two different words- ‘Yuga’ meaning age and ‘Adi’ meaning beginning in both Sanskrit and Kannada. Among the few legends related to Ugadi, one of the prominent ones is that on this day, Lord Brahma began creating the world.
On Ugadi, people clean their homes and decorate temples with jasmine flowers and mango leaves. They wake up at the crack of the dawn and massage themselves with sesame oil and bathe. The idols of gods and goddesses are also bathed in oil. Offerings of flowers, mango, and tamarind are made, and people wear new traditional clothes.
People prepare a special food item called 'Bevu Bella.' The recipe is a mix of neem flowers, jaggery, green chilies, salt, tamarind juice, and unripened mango that symbolizes the mixture of happy, sad, infuriating, fearful, disgusting, and surprising events in life. Meals are first offered to gods and then eaten. The rest of the day is spent visiting temples, offering prayers, meeting family members, etc.
5. Jamshedi Navroz
The Iranian calendar begins with the Parsi New Year, commonly known as Jamshedi Navroz or Navroz. The name Navroz is formed from two words: 'Nava,' which means new, and 'Roza,' which means day.
Jamshedi Navroz is a state holiday in Maharashtra and Gujarat. The celebrations of this day, or Parsi New Year, are comparable to the Nowruz spring holiday, in which people exchange gifts, donations, new clothes, clean houses, and enjoy a lot of fun and frolic.