SLCA (Sri Lankan & Canada Association hosted its 49st Anniversary Sinhala–Tamil New Year celebrations on the 22nd of April 2017 at Don Bosco Catholic School. This is the biggest event of SLCA calendar in terms of historical significance as well as showcasing the rich and, the diverse cultural heritage of Sri Lankans. This event was a product of many hours of effort and planning by over a hundred of volunteers. Sri Lanka is a country with a rich agricultural heritage, therefore the Sinhala & Tamil New Year festival and all accompanying traditions have evolved with the village culture as their basis. However even the present day urbasisation has not succeeded in obliterating the festivities, and families living in towns too, adhere to many of the customs, especially the Nonagathe, lighting of the hearth and boiling milk, enjoying the first meal together and engaging in transactions.
The Sinhala-Tamil New Year is probably the only major traditional festival that is commonly observed by the largest number of Sinhalese and Tamils in the country. Its non-ethnic non-religious character is another distinctive feature. This festival cannot be described as ethnic because it is celebrated by both the Sinhalese and the Tamils.Today, Sri Lankan. & Canada Association celebrated the new year celebration at Don Bosco catholic school in Etobicoke, Ontario Canada. The event was well planned, organized coordinated and executed. New Year Celebration event was exclusively financed by ticket sales, sponsors, and well-wishers. The celebration of Sinhala & Tamil New Year was motivated by various religious influences in Canada, namely Buddhist and Hindu. The Hindus also celebrate the New Year, commonly known as ‘Puththandu’, by observing the traditions and rituals practiced by ancestors over the years. However, they are slightly different to those of the Sinhalese. Homes are cleaned and made ready prior to the event. On the day of the Avurudu, during the auspicious time, Maruthu Neer – clean water boiled with various herbs, selected flowers and leaves, milk, saffron and other ingredients are made by the priests in temples. The Maruthu Neer is then applied on the heads of all family members prior to bathing. New clothes are recommended according to the colours mentioned in the almanac. A sweet rice is made if possible with new raw red rice, jaggery, cashew nuts, ghee and plums. The area in front of the house is cleaned and sprinkled with saffron water, and cowdung. A decorative design ‘Kolam’ is done with raw white rice flour. The hearth is made a little distance away facing the East, and a new pot is used to cook the ‘Pongal’. Lamps are lit by the housewife, and the head of the household arranges the Mangala Kumbam. A pot with five mango leaves and a coconut, lit joss sticks, a tray of flowers, betel leaves, arecanuts, comb of bananas and the sweet rice are offered to the Sun God and Lord Ganesh to complete the pooja. A coconut is broken by the head of the household and incense is burnt.The elders in the family bless the children, who worship them and seek their blessings and good wishes. A visit to the temple is a must. Customarily alms should be offered to the poor.During the auspicious time, the sweet rice is partaken by the family. Later the head of the family gives money, betel leaves, paddy and flowers – “Kai Vishesham” to the family members and wishes them good luck. The head of the family performs, “Er Mangalam” – during this time. Being an agrarian community, ploughing becomes the the traditional act on New Year’s day. Likewise, a teacher would start a lesson, a trader starts a new account, a craftsman starts his craft and so on. Visiting relatives and entertaining relatives and friends are also important features of the New Year celebrations.
Langes, FCPA, FCGA