Significance of the Tamil New Year

Thread started by virarajendra on 3rd February 2005 09:45 AM

Author - Virarajendra

Significance of the "Thamil (Tamil) New Year"

This Year the traditional "Tamil New Year" falls on the 1st of the Tamil Month Chiththirai of "Thiruvalluvar Aandu" 2048 {2017 + 31} being 14th April A.D.2017 based on the birth year of Thiruvalluvar - being B.C.31

""Thamilar Mangala Isai" with the dawn of the "Chiththirai Thamil Puththaandu" A beautiful rendering from Tamil Thirumurai/Thiruvasakam by 'Bombay Saradha' - You Tube A beautiful rendering from Tamil Naalaayira Thivya Pirapantham' by 'Bombay Saradha' - You Tube

Briefly on the "Thamil Puththaandu" - also referred to as the "Thamil Puthu Varuda Pirrappu" could be viewed in the vIdeos on the following URLs

(2) The Practices in the Celebration of - "Tamil Puththaandu" or "Puthu Varuda Piraappu" (Tamil New Year)

On the day of the Tamil New Year a space in front of the house where the morning sun falls is selected swept and water sprinkled to prevent dust rising if it is a sandy area and if cemented area washed with water, and in both cases in addition water - mixed with cowdung and manjal powder (tumeric powder) is sprinkled to ensure purity and cleanliness of the area where the Puththaandu Kolam is drawn with white Rice Flower. Within the the Main Doorway, Shrine Room Doorway at the top a string is tied across and poocharam is hung along with Mango Leaves alternatively equally spaced.

In the Kitchens of the Houses the burnt bricks or 'burnt clay aduppukal' decorated with Vipoothi, Santhanam and Kunkumam. In some areas the Paal (Milk) Pongal Pots made of Brass is used, but the Clay Pots are of traditional significance. In the Kitchens of the houses the ClayPots with colour designs painted around it's neck are used for first boiling of Milk. Dried Fire wood are used for lighting the hearth.

A Brass Kuththu Vilakku is placed on one side of the to Clay Pot with Images or Photos of God - Siva, Thirumaal, Pillaiyar, Murugan, or Sakthi - the God form of their choice, along with Saambiraani Thattu, Katpoora Thattu, Santhanakuttchi Nilai. On this same side a large plate with plantain leaf also placed on this side. Six other Plates one with Vetrillai, Paakku, and Pooch Charam, fresh Flowers for Poosai and a seive of very fresh ripe Plantains and flowers, Santhanakkutchi (Uthupaththi), Karpoorakattical and placed on the other side with an additional second small plate with crushed Saambiraani. The third Plate with one of each variety of Fruits of different colors namely Maampalam, Sulaikal of Palaappalam, Vaalaippalam, Munthirikai Palam, Vilaampalam and Maathulai Palam, Thodai Palam etc washed and placed near the first plate. The fourth plate to be with other Palakaarams such as Methu Vadai (Ulunthu Vadai), Kadalai Paruppu Chundal or Kondai Kadalai, Kadalai maa Murukku, Omampodi etc, and the fifth with Sweetmeats such as Aval, Boonthi, Laddu, Aluvaa etc placed near the earlier plates. One big plate with plantain leaves placed over it is kept near Pongal Paanai to spread Sakkarai Pongal.

All people of each household have early morning bath and wear new clothes for the occasion in their traditional garb the Selai, Paavaadai, Vesti, Melanghi, and the ladies and girls with poo, pottu, with or without basic jewels cluster around the Pongal Panai ready to start the Pongal festivities. They stand facing the rising sun and place the new Pongal Paanai with its decorations filled three quarter filled with cow milk. They light the fire wood in the hearth at the auspicios time and await its boiling. When the Milk boils over all Thupa Araththi with Saambiraani, and Theepa Araththi with Katpooram with the ringing of handbell and then to the Rising Norning Sun in referance to the Sun God. While the milk boils over the surrounding household members says Pongalo Pongal and pray to the Sun God within themselves for a Bright and Prosperous coming life.

Thereafter the members of each house hold place a little of Raw Red Rice (Swappu Patchai Arisi) with the addition of Sakkarai, Nei, Munthirikai vatthal, Kasukottai, Ealam and the Sakkarapongal is cooked. Once the Sakkaripongal is cooked they are spread on the large plate kept near the Kuththu Villakku. Theafter the the Lady of the Household does the Poosai Valipaadu to the God's Images or Photos decorated with flower garlands, flower charems, with santhanam and Kumkumam placed on them. Starting with the Thupa Valipaduwith Saambirani Araththi and Tupa Valipaadu with with Katpoora Araththi, followed by the singing Pathikams of Tamil Saiva Thevarems from Thirumuraikal or Vainava Thiruppaadalkal from Tamil Vainava Naayira thivya Pirapanthams and do the venduthalkal from God for their and their family well being. This is followed by Thupa araththi with Saambiraani smoke throught their household with the traditional belief all evils surrounding their househols should fade away.

Therafter the Sakkarai Pongal is distributed among the members of the household and others with Methu Vadai, Kadal Paruppu Chundal or Kadalai, Murukku, Omampodi with rip plantains and pieces of the variey of fruits kept for poosai including cut pieces of Karumbbu to have their first meal of the day with all happiness and sweetness to their pallets. Then the Chief of each house hold gives new coins or notes as Kai Visedam to the others members in the family signifying the wishing of prosperity.

Therafter it is customary to the entire family to go for worship at the nearby temple for their various venduthakal from God from the shortcomings in their life and for their salvation and well being and that of their family.

In the evening the days could end up with people going for Music festivals, Dance festivals, or Religious - Festivals or Lectures or organised Pattimantrams - but not for Tassmark Liquor festivals and end up the day making them look like "Fools - and a laughing stock" 'in the eyes of the others' especially on an auspicious day - whether they come from un-educated or less-educated Tamil families, or from highly educated rich and influential families.

(2) The Hindu Astronomical Significance of the Tamil New Year

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

The Sun (that appears to be moving) in to Meda Veedu or Raasi, 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 Raasi is known as a "Thingal" - a Month (also known as Maatham in Tamil and Maasa 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 Raasi was traditionally taken as the starting point of the New Year by the Tamils.

Also the "positioning" (Niyathi) of the twenty seven "Meengal" (Natchaththirams) within 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 "initial 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". But in ancient times in Tamil Nadu they were known as the "Kaalak Kanithar"

(3) The Tamil 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, and sequenced them with the commencement of the Ilavenil Kaalam. They are namely the,

Ilavenil Kaalam: mild sunny period : Chiththirai, Vaikaasi - 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 Ilavenil Kaalam covers both the months of Chitthirai and Vaikaasi as mentioned earlier. Vaikaasi too being a month of the Ilavenil Kaaalam is confirmed by a reference in the Chera(Kerala) Tamil Epic of the second century, known as "Manimekalai" composed by the Poet Saaththanaar.

The Reference is as follows:

".......Iruthu Ilavenil erikathir Idapaththu
oru pathin melum oru moontru sentrapin -
Meenaththu idainilai Meenathu ahavaiyin......."


".......(in the) season Ilavenil (when) the Sun is in the Idapa (Veedu = Raasi) (being the month of Vaikaasi), (after) one ten plus one three natchaththiram (stars) have passed, (on) the day of the central natchaththiram (star) (being the Chiththirai natchath-thiram) - ......."

Manimekalai - by Poet Seeththalai Saaththanaar, Paaththiram pettra kaathai, line 40-42

(U.V.Saaminaatha Iyer's 6th edition - 1956)

Further from the above it is also clear the Chithirai Natchaththiram was the fourteenth natchathiram in the order of reckoning of the twenty seven stars by the Tamils of the second century A.D. and earlier, and working backwards it is further confirmed the first natchaththiram reckoned in the natchathiram cycle was Acchuvini.

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. (Please note "Chiththirai Maatham" (month) and the "Chitthirai Natchathiram" (Star) are two different things. 'Chitthirai Maatham' (i.e. the period from Mid April to mid May) comes only once a year, while 'Chiththirai Natchatchiram' occurs during each of the twelve month of a year)

This might be the very reason the Tamil Saiva Saint of Tamil Nadu namely the Thirunaavukkarsu Naayanaar 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".

The Reference is as follows:

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


".......the speckless Veena, the (late) evening moon, the blowing Thentral (kaattru-wind) and the spanning Ilavenil season, the pond with cooling water like which is the shade of my father Easan's twin feet......."

Thevaara Thiruppathikamgal : 5th Thirumurai - by Tamil Saiva Saint Thirunaavukkarasar, Thanith Thirukkurunthokai Pathikam, Ver' 1

(Second Edition - Published by Gangai Puththaka Nilayam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu)

(4) The Sangam Period sequence of the Tamil Months of a Year

The "Kooththa Nool" a dance treatise composed by poet Saaththanaar of the "third Thamil Sangam" period of the first/second century Tamil Nadu, in describing the different type of clouds associated with each month of an year, has also sequenced the Tamil months with the commencement of Chitthirai Thingal and ending up with Panguni Thingal.

The Reference is as follows:

".......Chitthirai, Vaikaasi, Aani, Aadi, Aavani, Purattaasi, Iyppassi, Karththikai, Maarkali, Thaiyudan, Maasi, Panguni, ennath Thingal ovvondru inangum "muhil neri" kooththe "Muhil-vari" enba......."


"........the 'muhil neri' dances which complies which each month Chitthirai, Vaikaasi, Aani, Aadi, Aavani, Purattaasi, Iyppassi, Karththikai, Maarkali, Thaiyudan, Maasi, Panguni, are (known as) the "Muhil-vari" (in the treatise on dance).

Kooththa Nool - by Poet Saaththanaar, chapter titled the Vari Nool

(Second Edition - Published by Tamil Nadu Iyal Isai Nataka Mantram, Chennai, through the courtesy of Thirumathi Yogiyar wife of - Late Thiru Yogiyar who discovered this ancient Ola Manuscript - a Sangam Period Tamil Dance Treatise)

Further the "third Thamil Sangam" period Literature the "Nedunelvaadai" composed by poet Nakeeranaar too confirms that the Sun moves through the houses of Raasis 'starting' from the Meda Raasi which is the month of Chiththirai.

"......Thinnilai maruppin Aadu thalai yaha (with Meda Veedu or Raasi as the first) vinn uurbu thiri tharum veengu selal mandilathuthu......'


Nedunelvaadai - by Poet Nakkeeranaar, verse 160

Further the "third Thamil Sangam" period Tamil Literature the "Puranaanooru" has a verse composed by poet Kudaluur Keelaar which too confirms that the New year dawns with the Meda Raasi which is the month of Chiththirai.

"Aadu Iyal alal kuttaththu Aar irrul arai iravil
muudapp panaiyaththu ver muthalaak
kadaik kulaththu kayam kaayap Panguni uyar aluvath
thalai naal meen nilai thiriya
nilai naalmeen athan ethir errthara
thol naal meen thurai padiya
paasi sellaathu uusi thunaathu alakkarth thinai vilakkaakak
kanai eri parappa kaal ethippu pongi oru meen vilunththantraal visumbinaane


Puranaanooru - by Poet Kudaluur Keelaar, verse 229


We also note in the third century B.C. at a time when 'Meda Rasi' or 'Mesha Rasi' was called by it's pure Tamil name as "Aadu Iyal" (Aadu = Medam and Iyal = Raasi) the Tamils recognised it to be the first Veedu (or Raasi) being the Tamil month of Chiththirai of the Tamil year reckoning system. This is confirmed by the reference in the Tamil Literature of third Thamil Sangam period namely in the 'Nedunelvaadai' of the poet Nakkeerar of first century B.C. as ".....Thinnilai maruppin Aadu thalai yaha vinn uurbu thiri tharum veengu selal mandilathuthu......' and by a verse in 'Puranaanooru' by the poet Koodal Kilaar as "....Aadu Iyal alal kuttaththu.....". The second reference in Puranaanooru was made on the Tamil Chera (Kerala) king Maantharam Cheral Irumporai 3 to 4 decades ahead of the Silapathikaaram period in second century B.C.

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.

The Chitthirai Thingal (Maatham) with Ilavenil Kaalam was most welcome for the Tamils, and in many Hindu Temples in Tamil Nadu they celebrated the annual festival of the respective Temples in Chitthirai Thingal referred to as "Chiththirai Thiruvilaa" which was also known as the Vasantha (Ilavenil in Tamil) Vilaa from the period of Nayakkar rule in Tamil Nadu.

(5) The Tamil - 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.

A further Research Study is to be made to ascertain whether the so called "Hindu 60 - Years Reckoning Cycle" was actually of Sanskrit origin, or of Ancient Tamil origin with Tamil names which were subsequently changed to Sanskrit names with the intense Sanskritisation of 'Tamil Nadu - Culture and Practices' during the period of Pallava dynasty in north Tamil Nadu (A.D.575-900) with their capital at Kanchipuram.

Under Re-Construction



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