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Friday, Apr 11, 2014

Asia

Many Indians celebrate their new year in March and April

The Star/ANN | Friday, Apr 11, 2014

Deep in concentration: A florist in Brickfields preparing jasmine garlands for new year celebrations.

INDIA - The months of March and April are significant for many Indian communities, namely the Tamils, Telugus and Malayalees who will celebrate their respective new year.

StarMetro takes a look at the festivals - Puthanda, Ugadhi and Vishu - and the gastronomical spread from the communities during the celebrations.

Puthanda (April 14)

The Tamil New Year, known as Varisha Piruppu or Puthandu (new year) marks the first day of the first month - Chittirai - in the Tamil calendar.

With greetings of puthandu valthukal (happy new year) most Tamils visit their elders and relatives, and savour vegetarian meals on the day.

For the Tamil people, Puthandu carries great significance and is observed with prayers throughout the day.

The celebration is a modest and sweet affair as many anticipate sweet returns throughout the year.

They take the extra effort to clean the house, adorn new clothes and have an elaborate prayer with family before settling for the sumptuous vegetarian meal.

The highlight of the new year celebration is, however, the reading of the panjangam (Tamil almanac), said Malaysia Hindu Sangam vice-president Dr Rupa Saminathan.

She explained that the temples would read out the panjangam according to the various zodiacs to give a general forecast to individuals on what to expect for the new year. "The reading gives an insight on how the year would be like for each individual.

"Besides that, the celebration gives a reason for families and friends to unite in the spirit of love. The food is an added bonus.

"The dishes served are like any other day but the spread consists of a variety of tastes like sweet, salty, sour and bitter, symbolising the many tastes of life," she said, adding that the number of dishes served are usually in odd numbers.

In Little India, Brickfields' local food marts like Asokan Store and Modern Store are all ready to sell a variety of fresh vegetables and dried food items for the festival.

Asokan Store clerk Suresh Rebba said among the popular vegetables from India sought after during Puthandu were the kothavarengekka and kovaikaai.

The vegetables are hard to come by but the shops pre-order them for the new year.

"Most of our customers want a variety and the Indian vegetables are in demand," he added.

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