As per the Gregorian calendar, New Year’s Day is celebrated on the 1st of January every year. However, in India, this is not the only New Year we celebrate! Different regions and religions in our country celebrate New Year at different times of the year, and it usually coincides with the beginning of the harvest season. Here are some of the most popular Indian New Year Festivals that we look forward to this year.
Celebrated in: Punjab
Indian Calendar Day: First day of Vaisakha as per the Hindu lunisolar calendar
Gregorian Calendar Date: 14th or 15th April
Other names: Vaisakhi
Other significance: The day is very important for the Sikh community as it also marks the birth of the Khalsa order established by Guru Gobind Singh. Historically, Baisakhi has been significant, as this is the day that Ranjit Singh was proclaimed the Maharaja of the Sikh empire in 1801. This is also the day on which the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre took place in 1919.
Celebrations: On this day, Sikhs celebrate by attending devotional kirtans, visiting Gurudwaras and raising the Nishan Sahib flag. Baisakhi is a day of joy, to be spent socialising with family and friends, feasting on special festival foods.
Celebrated by: Kashmiri Hindus
Indian Calendar Day: First day of the fortnight after Amavasya (new moon), in the month of Chaitra
Gregorian Calendar Date: March or April
Celebrations: The night before, Kashmiris prepare a plate or thali filled with rice, curd, bread, walnuts, silver coins, a pen and inkpot and an astrological almanac of the new year. This plate is the first thing that is viewed on New Year’s Day, in the early hours of the morning. This day is also dedicated to Goddess Sharika and families visit temples to offer prayers and turmeric rice to the deity, as an auspicious start to the new year.
Celebrated by: Sindhi community
Indian Calendar Day: First day of the Sindhi month of Chet (Chaitra)
Gregorian Calendar Date: Late March or early April
Other significance: Apart from being the first day of a new year, Cheti Chand also marks the birth of Uderolal or Jhulelal, an important deity of the Sindhi community.
Celebrations: This day is celebrated with the organisation of fairs, feasts and processions honouring Jhulelal. Some Sindhis also prepare Baharana Sahib, which consists of a lamp, some sugar, cardamom, fruits, flowers, kalash, coconut, and a statue of Lord Jhulelal. This Baharana Sahib is meant to be seen as a representation of Jhulelal and is taken to a lake or river.
Celebrated in: Maharashtra, Konkan, Daman, Diu, parts of Goa
Indian Calendar Day: First day of Chaitra as per the Hindu lunisolar calendar
Gregorian Calendar Date: Mid April
Other names: Samsara Padavo
Other significance: Gudhi Padwa celebrates the arrival of the spring and the reaping of the Rabi crops. It is also linked to the mythical day on which Lord Brahma created the universe.
Celebrations: On this day, Maharashtrians erect Gudhis and perform pujas or participate in processions. ‘Gudhi’ refers to the staff or flag, which is wrapped with garlands, mango and neem leaves and has an upturned copper pot on top. The Gudhi symbolises different things such as the victory of King Shalivahana, the Brahmadhvaj mentioned in the Brahma Purana, and is also used to ward off evil and invite prosperity into the home. This day is meant to be celebrated with family members, exchanging sweets, wearing new clothes and cooking special delicacies, like Srikhanda Puri or Puran Poli.
Celebrated in: Kerala, Tulu Nadu in Karnataka
Indian Calendar Day: First day of Medam month, according to Kerala’s solar calendar
Gregorian Calendar Date: 14th or 15th of April
Other names: Bisu
Celebrations: Traditionally, Malayalees prepare auspicious items, like golden blossoms of the Kanikonna tree, silver objects, cloth, rice, coconuts, fruits, etc., which are to be viewed first thing in the morning on Vishu. Children also burst crackers and receive gifts and money from elders. The special feast, Sadhya, is prepared on this day which consists of vegetarian dishes like avial, thoran, Vishu katta and many more served on a banana leaf.