Mumbai: The city wore a cultural garland on Saturday since as many as five community New Years rung in. The first day of the month of Vaisakh, which roughly falls around April 13, 14 or 15, marks the start of Hindu New Year. Baisakhi or Vaisakhi (UP, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab), Puthandu (Tamil Nadu), Vishu (Kerala), Rongali Bihu (Assam) and Poila Boishakh (Bengal), it is also a celebration of spring harvest, saw citizens in the city enjoy traditional celebrations.
Baisakhi, which concluded on April 14, witnessed several functions throughout the city. Maharashtra Sikh Association had organized a special programme for the Baisakhi celebration in Chembur wherein people across the city and state congregated to welcome the new year. “On Baisakhi day we invited Sufi singers and Punjabi actor Gurpreet Ghuggi to entertain spectators at Chembur,” said Bal Malkit Singh, convenor of the association.
‘Puthandu Vazthukkal’ (New Year greetings) is how friends and relatives greeted one another of Puthandu, the Tamil New Year. “It is basically a home-bound traditional new year wherein we place ‘Panchanga’ and perform the pooja. After which we read the panchang of next year and welcome the year with some sweets and other delicacies. Some also prefer to go to temples,” said Anitha Srinivasan, a Ghatkopar resident and a home maker.
Vishu is the Malayalam New Year. Vishu means “equal” and it represents the celebration of the spring equinox. Malayali Hindus worship Lord Vishnu or Lord Krishna on the day, and also visit temples to have a Vishukkani Kazhcha (viewing). “Flowers hold a great importance in the festival. Vishu is observed in the early hours of the day in temples such as Sabarimala Ayyappan Temple or Guruvayur Sree Krishna temple (both in Kerela). But those who can’t go there do small poojas at home,” Srinivasan added.
Bihu does not just come once a year; there are actually three different Bihu festivals celebrated every year. All three are celebrated in their own way, although they are all linked to the agricultural cycle of Assam. Pockets of community celebrated the festival by performing the ‘Bihu Naach’ and sing songs specially composed for the occasion.
Poila Baisakh, Bangla Nabobarsho or simply Naba Barsha; all of these refer to the same festival celebrated by the Bengali community. The name ‘Poila Baisakh’ literally translates to the first month of the Bangla calendar. Besides the new years, BR Ambedkar Jayanti also fell on the same day. Devotees across Maharashtra in thousands come to Mumbai to offer their prayers to Ambedkar at the Ambedkar Smarak in Dadar Chowpatty.