1862 years ago, in the year 153, the beginning of a new year began to be observed from January 1. Before that, according to the Roman calendar, March 1st marked a new year. This is what the world follows today but regional, traditional and cultural calendars still hold their grounds in many countries.
Modern custom of celebrating the end of one year on December 31st and beginning of another one on January 1st is in lines with the Gregorian calendar and often referred to as the Christian New Year. The Gregorian calendar, named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in 1582, also known as the Western calendar and the Christian calendar, is the most widely used civil calendar all over the world.
There are various traditional New Year days celebrated around the world, in accordance with dates of Chinese calendar, Korean lunar calendar, Nowruz Iranian calendar, Tibetan calendar, Thai calendar and more. But in India alone, even though the official national celebration is according to the Christian calendar and celebrated on January 1st, there are many other cultural new year days that come about in one Christian Year of 365 days! Some major ones are mentioned as follows:
Ugadi – Kannadiga & Telugu New Year : Ugadi is celebrated in the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh some time in the month of March–April, depending on the Hindu calendar system.
Ugadi Gudi Padwa – Marathi New Year: Gudi Padwa is celebrated on the first day of Chaitra month, depending on the Hindu calendar for all Maharashtrians and Konkanis. On this day a gudi is found hanging out on the right side of the main entrance of the houses which is a bright yellow cloth tied on the head of a long bamboo stick with an inverted and copper pot placed on it along with a garland made of sugar.
Gudhi Padwa Baisakhi – Punjabi New Year: The land of Five rivers, Punjab celebates the biggest harvest festival across the northern states on this day. Usually Baisakhi is on 13-14th April. It is celebrated as the day of the formation of the Sikh Khalsa. The main celebration takes place at the birth place of the Khalsa and at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
Baisakhi Puthandu – Tamil New Year: The traditional Tamilian new year starts from either 13 or 14th April, or first day of Tamil month Chithirai. ‘Chitterai Thiruvizha’ is celebrated in the Meenakshi Temple Madurai. The main food of this festival is Mangai Pachadi.
Bohag Bihu – Assamese New Year: The spring festival “Bohag Bihu” celebrated in the middle of April as the beginning of agricultural bloom. The Assamese new year festival called ‘Bihu’ is the most important festival of Assam, celebrated by fun and abundance, faith and belief.
Poela Boishakh – Bengali New Year: The ‘Nabo Barsho‘ of Bengal is celebrated with great deal of enthusiasm and energy during the mid of April. This is the day of cultural programs, shopping, prayers and also considered as auspicious time for marriages. Poela Boishakh in Tripura is also celebrated on this day.
Bestu Varas – Gujarati New Year: Bestu Varas marks the harvest season in Gujrat and is celebrated with great enthusiasm on the day after Diwali. Marwaris of Rajasthan celebrate Diwali as a new year!
Vishu – Malayalam New Year: Vishu, as observed elsewhere in India, is usually on 13-14th April of the Gregorian calendar, belonging to Kerala. The most important event of the festival is “Vishukkani” which refers to the first object seen in the morning!
Losoong – Sikkimese New Year: Losoong, an ancient festival of Sikkim is celebrated on month of December, that marks the closing of harvest season and beginning of a new year. The traditional Chham dance is one of the major attractions.
Navreh – Kashmiri New Year: Kashmiir celebrates Navreh with great love, sanctity and involvement on the first day of Chaitra Navratri. It is considered a holy ritual.
Hijri – Islamic New Year: The Islamic year begins with Muharram. The Islamic New Year or Muharram varies as per lunar calendar and is celebrated in great fervor.
Cheti Chand – Sindhi New Year: Cheti Chand the Sindhi new year is celebrated on the second day of the Chaitra month. It is an auspicious day since it is the festival to honour the birth of “Jhulelal”.
All over the world, the New Year celebrations begin on December 31st and January 1st is a holiday. People spend this time eating and partying, meeting up with family and friends and having a great time. The clock strikes 12 midnight and fire crackers light up the sky, welcoming the following year.
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