Hindu New Year's Celebrations by Region

Marathi New year Celebration.
Marathi New Year Celebration. The image of procession was shot in Girgaon Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. Hira Punjabi / Getty Images

Celebrating the New Year in India can vary depending on where you are. The festivities may have different names, the activities may vary, and the day may even be celebrated on a different day.

Although the Indian national calendar is the official calendar for Hindu people, regional variants still prevail. As a result, there are a host of new year festivities that are unique to various regions in the vast country.

01
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Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka

Festoon made by Marigold flowers and Mango Leaves Pune Maharashtra India Asia
Dinodia Photo / Getty Images

If you are in the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, then you will hear the story about Lord Brahma who began the creation of the universe on Ugadi. People prepare for the New Year by cleaning their home and buying new clothes. On Ugadi Day, they decorate their home with mango leaves and rangoli designs, pray for a prosperous New Year, and visit the temples to listen to the yearly calendar, the Panchangasravanam, as priests make predictions for the coming year. Ugadi is an auspicious day to embark on a new endeavor. 

02
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Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra and Goa

smart indian couple performing gudhi padwa puja
subodhsathe / Getty Images

In Maharashtra and Goa, the New Year is celebrated as Gudi Padwa—a festival that heralds the advent of spring (March or April). Early on the morning of the first day of the Chaitra month, water symbolically cleanses people and homes. People wear new clothes and decorate their homes with colorful rangoli patterns. A silk banner is raised and worshiped, while greetings and sweets are exchanged. People hang a gudi on their windows, a decorated pole with a brass or a silver vessel placed on it, to celebrate Mother Nature's bounty. 

03
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Sindhis Celebrate Cheti Chand

Cheti Chand
Wikimedia Commons

For New Year's Day, Sindhis celebrate Cheti Chand, which is similar to an American Thanksgiving. Also, Cheti Chand falls on the first day of the month of Chaitra, also called Cheti in Sindhi. This day is observed as the birthday of Jhulelal, the patron saint of the Sindhis. On this day, Sindhis worship Varuna, the water god and observe a number of rituals followed by feasts and devotional music such as bhajans and aartis

04
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Baisakhi, the Punjabi New Year

Traditional Indian drums
tashka2000 / Getty Images

Baisakhi, traditionally a harvest festival, is celebrated on April 13 or 14 every year, marking the Punjabi New Year. To ring in the New Year, people from Punjab celebrate the joyous occasion by performing the bhangra and giddha dances to the pounding rhythm of the dhol drum. Historically, Baisakhi also marks the founding of the Sikh Khalsa warriors by Guru Govind Singh in the late 17th century.

05
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Poila Baishakh in Bengal

Preparation work for 'Boishakh' underway
Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

The first day of the Bengali New Year falls between April 13 and 15 every year. The special day is called Poila Baishakh. It is a state holiday in the eastern state of West Bengal and a national holiday in Bangladesh.

The "New Year," called Naba Barsha, is a time for people to clean and decorate their houses and invoke Goddess Lakshmi, the bestower of wealth and prosperity. All new enterprises begin on this auspicious day, as businessmen open their fresh ledgers with Haal Khata, a ceremony in which Lord Ganesha is summoned and customers are invited to settle all their old dues and offered free refreshments. The people of Bengal spend the day feasting and participating in cultural activities.

06
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Bohaag Bihu or Rongali Buhu in Assam

Handmade Colorful Bird Door Hanging
David Talukdar / Getty Images

The northeastern state of Assam ushers in the New Year with the spring festival of Bohaag Bihu or Rongali Bihu, which marks the onset of a new agricultural cycle. Fairs are organized in which people revel in fun games. The celebrations go on for days, providing a good time for young people to find a companion of their choice. Young belles in traditional attire sing Bihu geets (New Year's songs) and dance the traditional mukoli Bihu. The festive food of the occasion is pitha or rice cakes. People visit the homes of others, wish each other well in the New Year, and exchange gifts and sweets.

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Vishu in Kerala

Vishu is the first day in the first month of Medam in Kerala, a picturesque coastal state in southern India. The people of this state, the Malayalees, begin the day early in the morning by visiting the temple and looking for an auspicious sight, called Vishukani. 

The day is full of elaborate traditional rituals with tokens called vishukaineetam, usually in form of coins, being distributed among the needy. People wear new clothes, kodi vastram, and celebrate the day by bursting firecrackers and enjoying a variety of delicacies at an elaborate lunch called the sadya with family and friends. The afternoon and evening are spent at a Vishuvela or festival.

08
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Varsha Pirappu or Puthandu Vazthuka, the Tamil New Year

Chukandar or Beetroot Raita / Pachadi also known as koshimbir or salad
subodhsathe / Getty Images

The Tamil-speaking people across the globe celebrate Varsha Pirappu or Puthandu Vazthukal, the Tamil New Year, in mid-April. It is the first day of Chithirai, which is the first month in the traditional Tamil calendar. The day dawns by observing kanni or viewing propitiousthings, such as gold, silver, jewelry, new clothes, new calendar, mirror, rice, coconuts, fruits, vegetables, betel leaves, and other fresh farm products. This ritual is believed to usher in good fortune.

The morning includes a ritualistic bath and almanac worship called panchanga puja. The Tamil "Panchangam," a book on New Year predictions, is anointed with sandalwood and turmeric paste, flowers, and vermilion powder and is placed before the deity. Later, it is read or listened to either at home or at the temple.

On the eve of Puthandu, every household is thoroughly cleaned and tastefully decorated. The doorways are garlanded with mango leaves strung together and  vilakku kolam decorative patterns adorn the floors. Donning new clothes, the family members gather and light a traditional lamp, the kuthu vilakku, and fill niraikudum, a short-necked brass bowl with water, and embellish it with mango leaves while chanting prayers. People end the day visiting neighboring temples to offer prayers to the deity. The traditional Puthandu meal consists of pachadi, a mixture of jaggery, chilies, salt, neem leaf or flowers, and tamarind, plus a green banana and jackfruit concoction as well as a variety of sweet payasam (desserts).