The Sinhala and Tamil New Year colloquially referred to as the Sinhala and Tamil Aluth Awurudu or Puthandu, is a highly festive time in Sri Lanka and is one of the most anticipated festivals in Sri Lanka. The festival is celebrated when the sun moves from Pisces to Aries, marking the end of the harvesting season. It is celebrated with a series of traditions, food, and fun games that take place during the day and involve the entire community. The dawning of the new year is celebrated on the 14th of April each year!
The Avurudu traditions begin on the 13th of April with the neutral time (or punya kaalaya) which is the time between the ending of the Old Year and the dawning of the New Year. This time is used to observe and perform religious ceremonies. People are also encouraged to refrain from their day-to-day activities and seek blessings from their priests/monks. What is most special about the new year traditions are that they are performed during an auspicious time. Therefore, the entire country cooks, eats and engages in work at the same time.
The dawning of the New Year is traditionally celebrated with the lighting of the hearth and traditionally boiling milk using a brand-new clay pot as a symbol of prosperity. The overflowing of the boiling milk is considered to bring good luck for the entire family. Thereafter, the traditional milk rice and an array of sweetmeats are prepared and enjoyed by family and distributed among neighbours symbolizing unity amongst all with no boundaries.
The New Year is all about food and games! The Avurudu table overflows with various sweet meats and foods specially made for the festival. Some of these food items include Konda kavum- a deep fried fluffy cake, Kokis- a deep-fried, crispy sweet made from rice flour and coconut milk, Aasmi- crunchy traditional sweet topped with a traditional caramel syrup, Mung Kavum- A diamond-shaped sweet that comes with a crunchy crust with a sweet paste of sweetened green grams inside and so much more! We at Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts always ensure our guests have a taste of all these sweetmeats and feel the spirit of the new year whilst they’re at our hotels.
Avurudu games are also a treat during this time of the year. Some of these Avurudu games include placing the eye on the elephant- (Aliyata asa thabeema), Eating buns the fastest (Banis kema), Pillow-fight – (Kotta Pora), Tug-o-War (Kamba Adeema), Breaking the pots – (Kanamutti bindeema), Climbing the greasy pole – (Lissana gaha nageema), and so on!
This year, the spirit of avurudu was rampant at all Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts properties! The Cinnamon Grand Colombo and Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo, especially, were beaming with festivities during the New Year. Avurudu games, food and fun were amply available for all who wanted to enjoy! And of course, the speciality of Avurudu is also in its sharing and family! We at Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts together with the Cinnamon Care initiative and its stringent health and safety policies ensured that Avurudu at Cinnamon was a safe and distanced one!
Author – Shenella Fonseka