The Varushapirapu is the Tamil New Year, which is a
meaningful time of celebration for families and friends throughout the
world. It is a time for celebrating new and prosperous beginnings. The
13th or 14th of April is the beginning of the first month Chittirai of the
Tamil year, which is celebrated as the New Year and is also known as "Chittirai
Vishu". Varusham is the Tamil word for "year" and 'Pirapu'
can be translated as the "birth" or "beginning" or "commencement"
of an event.
The Legend Behind The Celebrations
There are many legends behind the celebrations, according to one it is said that the "Chaitra Vishu Day" or the opening day of the first fortnight of the waxing moon was the occasion chosen by Brahma to create this world. Hence this day is also known as "Yugadhi" or the beginning of a Yuga.
This festive day is said to have acquired further importance by the fact that Sri Ramachandra, the hero of the epic Ramayana, had his triumphal entry into Ayodhya after the destruction of the rakshasas, and was crowned there on this day.
A unique way of welcoming the New Year, the excitement begins about two weeks before the New Year. Families go shopping for new clothes. The house is thoroughly cleaned and even repainted at times. Mothers and grandmothers make loads of sweet and savoury snacks in preparation for the big celebrations when relatives and friends will make their rounds of visits to each home, passing on their wishes for a prosperous and healthy Happy New Year.
The schools are closed and the kids look forward to this time off. Children also remember the celebration of the New Year as time when their elders present them with money as a token of prosperity. This blessing of prosperity and well being from elders is called "Kaivialum".
Early in the morning on this day, the entrance is decorated with 'Kolam' (Rangoli). The doorways are adorned with mango leaves to mark the auspicious occasion. After an early bath, the whole family prays together, after which the children are supposed to take the blessings of their parents. No specific mantra is recited. Since this festival marks the beginning of the New Year, food prepared is very special, with particular emphasis on pulses and cereals.
Each family begins their celebrations with the lighting of the 'Kuthu Villakku' (traditional lamp) which is placed next to the Niraikudum (a brass bowl-like container with a short neck, filled to the brim with water and decorated with leaves of the mango tree, which are arranged in a circle around a husked coconut placed on top of the neck of the brass container). After prayer, elders give gifts of money to all the members of the family and then the fun and merriment begins.
It is believed that if one lives this day happily, the rest of the year will turn out well. That is why on this day people try not to do bad deeds or quarrel. To prepare for this day, families do spring-cleaning and decorate their houses. On New Year's Day, they visit the temple and eat only vegetarian food.
The Car Festival
On the Tamil New Year's Day, a big Car Festival is held at Tiruvadamarudur near Kumbakonam. Festivals are also held at Tiruchirapalli, Kanchipuram and many other places.