Celebrating the vibrant traditions of the Sri Lankan New Year


As April approaches (between April 12-14), Sri Lanka awakens to vibrant colors, joyful celebrations and a sense of renewal.

The Sinhala and Tamil New Year festival, known as 'Aluth Avurudu', is a long-standing tradition that brings communities together in an atmosphere of unity and celebration.

Let's delve into the rich cultural fabric of the Sri Lankan New Year and discover the customs and rituals that make this occasion so special.

  1. Astrological Significance: The Sri Lankan New Year marks the transition of the Sun from the Meena Rashiya (House of Pisces) to the Mesha Rashiya (House of Aries), signifying the end of the harvest season and the beginning of a new agricultural cycle. It is a time deeply rooted in astrological significance and agricultural traditions.

  2. Cleaning and Preparation: In the days leading up to the New Year, households undergo a deep cleansing known as 'Avurudu Pola'. This tradition symbolizes the cleansing of the problems of the old year and welcomes the new year with a fresh start. The houses are decorated with elaborate "Thorana" decorations made of woven coconut leaves and colorful flowers, creating a festive atmosphere.

  3. New Year's Eve: The eve of New Year, known as "Nonagathe", is a time when families gather and take part in traditional rituals. Lighting the stove, boiling milk and preparing the first meal of the year are all among the auspicious customs observed on this evening.

  4. Dawn of the New Year: As the sun moves from one astrological house to another, the entire nation comes together to celebrate the beginning of the new year. The moment of transition, known as "Nonagathe Mangallaya", is marked by lighting oil lamps and enjoying traditional sweets that symbolize prosperity and abundance.

  5. Avurudu Games and Celebrations: The Sri Lankan New Year is incomplete without the playful and competitive traditional games that bring communities together. From "Kotta Pora" (pillow fights) to "Kana Mutti" (grease pole climbing), these games bring out laughter and camaraderie among participants of all ages.

  6. Gift Exchange: Another valued aspect of the Sri Lankan New Year is the tradition of exchanging gifts and tokens of goodwill among family and friends. Traditional sweets, fruits and betel leaves decorated with areca nuts and lime are often exchanged as symbols of friendship and prosperity.

  7. Feasting and happiness: No New Year celebration is complete without indulging in a variety of delicious culinary delights. Families gather to enjoy traditional Sri Lankan dishes such as kiribath (rice pudding), kavum (oil cake) and kokis (crispy fried snacks) and taste the flavors of the season.

  8. Special times during the New Year: During the Sri Lankan New Year, there are special moments that mark the transition into the new year. One such tradition is the symbolic giving up of work. On the last working day before the New Year, people finish their work early and clean their workplaces to close out the old year and prepare for the new year.

  9. Money exchange ceremony: Another notable tradition is the money exchange ceremony known as "Ganu Denu". Family members gather to exchange gifts of money, with the older ones giving money to the younger ones to symbolize good luck and prosperity for the coming year. This gesture of giving and receiving strengthens family bonds and creates an atmosphere of generosity and appreciation.

The quitting work and money exchange ceremony are important parts of the Sri Lankan New Year, marking the transition into the new year and highlighting the importance of community, cohesion and goodwill.

The Sri Lankan New Year is more than just a cultural event; it is a long-standing tradition that embodies the core of community, cohesion and renewal. As we welcome the New Year, we should embrace the spirit of Aluth Avurudu and preserve the traditions that bind us as a nation.

Happy New Year!


Suba Aluth Avuruddak Wewa!