TAMIL NEW YEAR - Virothi Aandu

The month of Chitthirai has arrived and with it the Tamil New Year’s Day; April 14th – an occasion for celebration for Tamilians all over the world. Greetings of “Puthandu Vazthukal”, (Happy New Year), are exchanged with fervour on this day, which is supposedly the day when Lord Brahma (The Creator of the world, according to Hindu mythology) started creation.

Almanac for the year 2001-02The day starts with viewing the 'kanni' (the auspicious sight) at dawn, in the expectation that beginning the New Year by looking at auspicious or favourable things will bring good fortune throughout the year. The auspicious things include, gold and silver jewellery, betel leaves, nuts, fruits and vegetables, flowers, raw rice and coconuts. This is followed by the ritual bath and a visit to the temple to pray for a prosperous and happy New Year. After which, the Panchangam (almanac) is read. The ladies adorn the entrances of their houses with ‘Kolam’ (design made with rice flour) and deck the doorway with mango leaves. A grand Car Festival is held at Tiruvadamarudur near Kumbakonam every year on April 14th. Also during the month of Chitthirai the marriage of Goddess Meenakshi to Lord Sundareswarar is celebrated as ‘Chitthirai festival’.

The highlight of the festival is the 'Maanga Pachadi' (a dish made of raw mangoes, jaggery and neem flowers), which is at the same time sweet, sour and bitter. This signifies all the different aspects of our life.

April 14th also happens to be the Bengali New Year Day, Naba Barsha, which begins with the ‘Prabhat Pheries’ (an early morning procession) with songs and dances welcoming the New Year. In Kerala ‘Vishu’ is celebrated by Malayalees commemorating the beginning of the astronomical New Year in the Malayalam Calendar.

Courtesy: http://www.chennaibest.com/discoverchennai/citylifestyle/feature14.asp

Hindu Cyclic System of Years

The Tamils also considered an average life cycle of a human-being as 60 years, and reckoned a "Cyclic System of Years" based on same provided with different names for each year falling within this cycle. The Year Cycle repeats itself in every 60 years. The names of the sixty years of this cycle are as follows.

(1) Pirapava Aandu
(2) Vipava Aandu
(3) Sukla Aandu
(4) Piramothuutha Aandu
(5) Pirasotpaththi Aandu
(6) Aangeerasa Aandu
(7) Srimuha Aandu
(8) Pava Aandu
(9) Yuva Aandu
(10) Thaathu Aandu
(11) Eeswara Aandu
(12) Vehuthaaniya Aandu
(13) Piramaathi Aandu
(14) Vikrama Aandu
(15) Visha Aandu
(16) Chitirabaanu Aandu
(17) Subaanu Aandu
(18) Thaarana Andu
(19) Paarththipa Aandu
(20) Viya Aandu
(21) Sarvasiththu Aandu
(22) Sarvathaari Aandu
(23) Virothi Aandu
(24) Vikruthi Aandu
(25) Kara Aandu
(26) Nanthana Aandu
(27) Vijaya Aandu
(28) Jaya Aandu
(29) Manmatha Aandu
(30) Thunmuki Aandu
(31) Hovilambi Aandu
(32) Vilambi Aandu
(33) Vikaari Aandu
(34) Saarvari Aandu
(35) Pilava Aandu
(36) Subakiruthu Aandu
(37) Sobakiruthu Aandu
(38) Kurothi Aandu
(39) Visuvaasuva Aandu
(40) Paraapava Aandu
(41) Pilavanga Aandu
(42) Keelaka Aandu
(43) Soumiya Aandu
(44) Saathaarana Aandu
(45) Virothikiruthu Aandu
(46) Parithaapi Aandu
(47) Piramaatheesa Aandu
(48) Aanantha Aandu
(49) Raatchasa Aandu
(50) Nala Aandu
(51) Pingala Aandu
(52) Kaalayukthi Aandu
(53) Siththaarththi Aandu
(54) Rouththri Aandu
(55) Thunmathi Aandu
(56) Thunththupi Aandu
(57) Ruthrothkaari Aandu
(58) Rakthaatchi Aandu
(59) Kurothana Aandu
(60) Atsaya Aandu

According to the above Cyclic System of Years, the Tamil New Year the "Thaarana Aandu" dawns on the first day of the Chiththirai Thingal, which is the 13th of April 2004.

However some claim this New Year is of a Hindu System (astronamically), and the Tamil New year actually falls on the 14th of January with the dawn of the Tamil month of Thai.

Courtesy : http://forumhub.mayyam.com/hub/viewlite.php?t=1767

Seasonal Significance of the Tamil New Year

The Tamils have divided an Aandu in to six seasons based on the climatic conditions in Tamil Nadu. They are namely the,

Ilavenil Kaalam : mild sunny period : Chiththirai, Vahasi - Thingal
: mid April to mid June
Muthuvenil Kaalam : intense sunny period : Aani, Aadi - Thingal
: mid June to mid August
Kaar Kaalam : cloudy rainy Period : Aavani, Purataasi - Thingal
: mid August to mid October
Kuthir Kaalam - cold period : Iyppassi, Kaarthihai - Thingal
: mid October to mid December
Munpani Kaalam - early misty period (evening dew): Maarkali, Thai - Thingal
: mid December to mid February
Pinpani Kaalam - late misty period (morning dew): Maasi, Panguni - Thingal
: mid February to mid April

The beginning of the Ilavenil Kaalam of the Tamils coincides with the beginning of the Sun moving into the Meda Veedu or Rasi, which falls in mid April, and is the time of commencement of the Tamil month of Chitthirai.

The dawn of the month of Chiththirai is the dawn of the Ilavenil Kaalam, a period of mild sun with much light and less humid wind known to be very soothing and refreshing and was known as "Thentral Kaatru" to Tamils.

This might be the very reason the Tamil Saiva Saint of Tamil Nadu namely the Thirunaavukkarsu Nayanaar of the late sixth and early seventh century, equated the pleasure of being at the feet of God Siva - is as good as the "blowing Thentral Kaatru during the extended Ilavenil Kaalam", showing the great delight the Tamils had during the Ilavenil Kaalam.

"Maasil veenaiyum maalai mathiyamum
veesu thentralum veengu Ilavenilum
moosu vandari poikaiyum pontrathe
Eesan enthai inai adi nilale"

Hence it is clear the Tamils selected the dawn of the Tamil New Year with the beginning of the "Ilavenil Kaalam", being also the time the Sun just enters the "Meda Veedu" and the beginning of the "Meenkal Suttru" (Natchaththira cycle) commencing with "Acchuvini". The dawn of the New Year was referred to as the "Puthiya Aandu Pirappu" or "Varudha Pirappu", and the starting month of the New Year was called as the "Chiththirai Thingal" or Matham.

Courtesy : http://forumhub.mayyam.com/hub/viewlite.php?t=1767

Significance of the Tamil New Year - Hindu Astronomical

The Earth travels in an eliptical path around the Sun through 360 degrees (Paakai in Tamil), and the time period for one such complete travel around the Sun (Suriyan in Tamil) is called an Year (Aandu in Tamil).

The circumferance of the eliptical path traced by the Earth (Ulaham in Tamil) having the Sun as the central point - are divided into twelve arcs, and the angular segments traced by each arc measuring 30 degress is called a House (Veedu in Tamil or Rasi in Sanskrit). Thus the earth passes through twelve Houses in an year.

In actual fact, it is the Earth which enters each Houses at any given time. But for us who live on the Earth it appears as if the Sun is moving (relative Motion), and we very loosely say that the "Sun travels through the twelve Houses".

The twelve Houses are named as,

(1) Meda Veedu or Rasi
(2) Idapa Veedu or Rasi
(3) Mithuna Veedu or Rasi
(4) Kataka Veedu or Rasi
(5) Singa Veedu or Rasi
(6) Kanni Veedu or Rasi
(7) Thula Veedu or Rasi
(8) Virutchika Veedu or Rasi
(9) Thanu Veedu or Rasi
(10) Makara Veedu or Rasi
(11) Kumba Veedu or Rasi
(12) Meena Veedu or Rasi

The Sun (that appears to be moving) in to Meda Veedu or Rasi, is taken as the starting point of it's next complete cycle throught the twelve Veeduhal.

The period of travel of the Sun in each Veedu or Rasi is known as a "Thingal"- a Month (also known as Matham in Tamil and Masa in Sanskrit). Hence for the Sun to travel through the twelve Veedus or Rasis to complete one cycle, it takes twelve Thingals which is known as an "Aandu" - a Year (also known as Varudam in Tamil and Varusha in Sanskrit).

The time the Sun enters the "Meda Veedu" or Rasi was traditionally taken as the starting point of the New Year by the Tamils.

Also the "positioning" (Niyathi) of the twenty seven "Meengal" (Natchaththirams) in these twelve Veeduhal too has been traditionally counted from "Acchuvini" the first Meen in the Meda Veedu, and ends up in "Revathi" as the last Meen in the Meena Veedu.

The fact that the Meda Veedu commences with the first of the twenty seven Meenkal namely the Acchuvini in "position" (Niyathi), too confirms that from the early days Tamils reckoned the starting point of a year cycle with the Meda Veedu.

The one who calculates the astronomical settings and movements of the Earth, Sun, and other Planets in respect of the 12 Veedus or Rasis is known as the "Sothidar" (Saaththriyaar - in Jaffna). But in ancient times in Tamil Nadu they were known as the "Kaalak Kanithar"

Courtesy : http://forumhub.mayyam.com/hub/viewlite.php?t=1767