As the country tries to fight a catastrophic virus, Tamil Nadu steps into a new year on April 14, along with Assam, Kerala, Odisha, Punjab and Bengal, with less pomp and fanfare, but double the hope. Notably, traditional new year observed across the country on Tuesday is also the last day of the national lockdown in the country intended to break the chain of the infectious virus.
Tamil New Year which is believed to usher in hope, good health and prosperity is celebrated with great pomp and show- temples organise massive exhibitions attracting visitors from across the country, families decorate platters with delicious food, flowers, gold jewellery, cash and other objects symbolising prosperity. It is then placed next to a deity at home, as an offering to the Gods.
In several States, people will mark the beginning of the new year under extreme measures and relatively cautiously, as the number of coronavirus cases soared past 10,000.
Families crowded around gadgets instead of hosting family gatherings and wished each other virtually, grand dinners will swiftly be replaced with modest meals and simple rangolis adorning the doorsteps of nearly every house.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the people of Tamil Nadu with a tweet just ahead of his national address regarding the Corona crisis.
அனைவருக்கும், குறிப்பாக என் தமிழ்ச் சகோதரர் சகோதரிகளுக்கும் புத்தாண்டு நல்வாழ்த்துகள். இன்பம் நிறைந்த ஆண்டாக இது அமைந்திடப் பிரார்த்திக்கிறேன்.எதிர்வரும் ஆண்டில் உங்கள் விழைவுகள் யாவும் நிறைவேறிடட்டும்.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 14, 2020
Puthandu wishes to all. Praying for a year full of joy and wonderful health.
'Greetings to all, especially to my brothers and sisters from Tamil Nadu on this New Years Day. May the festival deepen the spirit of brotherhood and also bring joy and good health. I pray that all your wishes come true', he tweeted.
The Prime Minister subsequently also tweeted in other regional languages, in Bengali, Telugu and Assamese to convey his greetings to the people. The traditional new year, though poses a significant new challenge to the country, the spirit of the festival and the people remain unhampered as they improvise new ways to celebrate the joyous occasion safely with their friends and families.
According to local folklore, it is believed that on April 14, Lord Brahma, "created" the universe on this day. As part of the State's 23 public holidays, Puthandu is also celebrated in other countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and other countries with a sizeable Tamil population.