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Why is Tamil New Year celebrated on 14th April every year?

While most of the world celebrates New Year’s Day on Jan. 1, there are many cultures that recognize the start of a new year on different dates.

While it’s ‘Ugadi’ for Telugu, it’s ‘Puthandu’ for Tamil. On this day, Tamilians from all across the globe unite in celebrating the new year. The houses are cleaned, prayers are offered to the gods and a lavish spread is prepared. In case you are away from family, you can send these wishes to your friends and family members.

Though ‘Ugadi’ falls on several dates, ‘Puthandu’ is celebrated on 14th April every year.

How does the Tamil calendar system work?

Chithirai 31 days
Vaigasi 31 days
Aani 32 days
Aadi 31 days
Aavani 31 days
Purattasi 31 days
Ippasi 30 days
Karthigai 29 days
Margazhi 30 days
Thai 29 days
Maasi 30 days
Panguni 30 days

There are 365 days in Total and hence Tamil New year always starts on April 14 and ends on April 13 the same as English New year starts on January 1st and ends on December 31.

The Tamil New Year follows the vernal equinox and generally falls on 14 April of the Gregorian year. 14 April marks the first day of the traditional Tamil calendar and is a public holiday in both Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka.

The Tropical vernal equinox falls around 22 March, and adding 23 degrees of trepidation or oscillation provides the Hindu sidereal transition or Nirayana Mesha Sankranti (the solar transition into the constellation of Aries). The Tamil calendar thus begins on the same date observed by most traditional calendars in India as in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Manipur, Mithila, Odisha, Punjab, Tripura, Nepal, Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

The 60-year cycle is ancient and is observed by most traditional calendars of India and China, and is related to 5 revolutions of Jupiter, or to a 60-year orbit of Nakshatras (stars) as described in the Surya Siddhanta.

The 60-year cycle comes by 5 revolutions of Jupiter and 2 revolutions of Saturn. The relative position of Jupiter and Saturn in one particular year will be repeated after 60 years. Ths 60-year cycle was essentially conceived for predicting the climate of a particular year, as the relative position of the two major planets, Jupiter and Saturn, is recognized for its impact on climate.

The traditional Tamil year starts on 14 April 2016 [Kali Yuga 5118]. The year may also be dated according to the Vikram Samvat or Saka era.

There are several references in early Tamil literature to the April new year. Nakkirar, the Sangam period author of the Neṭunalvāṭai, wrote in the third century that the sun travels from Mesha/Chitterai through 11 successive signs of the zodiac.

Kadalūr Kizhaar in the 3rd century refers to Mesha Raasi/Chitterai as the commencement of the year in the Puṟanāṉūṟu.

The Tolkaapiyam is the oldest surviving Tamil grammar that divides the year into six seasons where Chitterai marks the start of the Ilavenil season or summer. The 8th-century Silappadikaaram mentions the 12 Raasis or zodiac signs starting with Mesha/Chitterai.

TheManimekalai alludes to the Hindu solar calendar as we know it today. Adiyarkunalaar, an early medieval commentator or Urai-asiriyar mentions the twelve months of the Tamil calendar with particular reference to Chitterai. There were subsequent inscriptional references in Pagan, Burma dated to the 11th century CE and in Sukhothai, Thailand dated to the 14th century CE to South Indian, often Vaishnavite, courtiers who were tasked with defining the traditional calendar that began in mid-April.

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