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Puthandu Festival

Puthandu Festival

India is a land of diversity. It is at the crossroad of indigenousness and heterogeneity that the cultural landscape of this country is mapped out. Here every regional community has its own way of celebrating life that is both distinctively ethnic in its manifestations and universal in its appeal.

What is Puthandu?

Puthandu marks the conception of a new year in Tamil Nadu. Keeping up with the Tamil solar calendar, Puthandu is celebrated on the first day of the month of Chithirai or Chitterai. It is on the 14th of April according to the Gregorian calendar that every year Tamilians across India including those from Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore celebrate this festival to welcome the Tamil New Year with a lot of joy and exuberance.

This auspicious day is also known as Puthuvarudam or Varsha Pirappu in different parts of Tamil Nadu. On this day Tamilians greet one another by uttering “Puthandu Nalvazthukal” which is basically a Tamil New Year Wish! The Tamil Puthandu takes on different names in different parts of the country. For instance, Pohela Sankranti in Odisha, Vishu in Kerala, Bihu in Assam, Baisakhi in central and northern India. This day has been declared a state holiday and all banks, offices (both public and private sectors) and educational institutions remain closed in honour of the festival.

Auspicious Muhurat Timings (Panchangam) for Puthandu Festival

When is Puthandu 2023

In 2023 Puthandu festival falls on the 14th of April.

Puthandu Muhurat

Tamil Shaka Samavata 1945 begins
Sankranti Moment on Puthandu – 15:12 Hours (3:12 PM IST)
Brahma Muhurta: 04:51 to 05:37
Pratah Sandhya - 05:14 to 06:22
Abhijit: 12:14 to 13:04
Vijaya Muhurta: 14:44 to 15:35
Godhuli Muhurta: 18:54 to 19:17
Sayahna Sandhya: 18:55 to 20:04
Amrit Kalam: 21:54 to 23:24
Nishita Muhurta: 00:16 (15th April) to 01:01 (15th April)
Sarvartha Siddhi Yoga: 09:14 (14th April) to 06:22 (15th April)

Significance of Puthandu

Apart from looking up to this day as the heralder of hope and fulfilment of wishes, Tamilians also believe that the Puthandu festival has some mythological significance. Legend has it that Lord Indra, the God of Rain and Thunder, descended upon Earth on this day to bless the mortals. In some parts of Tamil Nadu, it is claimed that Lord Brahma conceived the universe on the day of Puthandu. On this day, Tamilians offer prayers to the Gods and visit religious sites to seek their blessings.

Puthandu Puja Vidhi

Puthandu Puja Vidhi

In many temples across the state, abhishekams are offered to deities on this day. Puthandu also marks the initiation of the magnificent Ther (Chariot or Rath) processions that are held during the first Tamil month of Chithirai, in different temples across the state.

Another crucial aspect of this festival is the celebration of the divine union of Goddess Meenakshi with Lord Sundareswarar referred to as Meenakshi Tirukalyanam. Every year at the Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai, on the month of Chithirai the deities Meenakshi and Sundereswara are worshipped.

Puthandu Rituals

Puthandu RitualsTamilians welcome the new year in style. During Puthandu, an invocation of all the five senses of experience namely, sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste takes place which allows the participant to step into the realm of the spiritual while being strongly connected to the material world around him.

Many hued rice-flour Rangoli designs which are called kolams adorn the entrances to homes where pujas and worshipping ceremonies are held. These are often followed by a participation in communal feasts. In some houses a lamp, locally referred to as kuthuvillaku is lit at the center of the kolam which is supposed to ward off darkness and evil.

The Custom of Kanni

The Custom of KanniThe custom of Kanni is followed by many Tamilians during this festival. It involves preparing a large platter with an eclectic choice of goods ranging from mango, banana, betel leaves, jackfruit to jewellery and cash on the eve of Puthandu. The placement of the kanni is carefully chosen to ensure that it is the sight one wakes up to on the morning of the festival. It is believed that this custom brings peace, harmony, and success to the household. This tradition can be traced back to the ancient ages as a tribute to a predominantly agrarian culture.

The reflection of the kanni on the mirror is considered to be an auspicious sight on the dawn of the festival. Following which the household engages in other rituals like taking a shower, putting on new clothes, and praying. Finally, the family gathers for a feast that includes assorted dishes from the South Indian cuisine specially prepared for this day!

How do Tamilians celebrate Puthandu?

‘Puthandu’ celebrations play an important role in bringing together people from different strata of the society who bond over traditional songs, dances, and ritualistic proceedings. Many women participate in folk dances like kummi and kolattam to celebrate the culture of the land.

Wearing new clothes, exchanging gifts and greetings, touching the feet of elders for blessing, offering prayer at temples are usual activities performed by Tamilians throughout this day. Everyone including children and elders are spotted donning traditional attires. Men wear lungi and angavastam, little girls run around in colourful pavadai dhavani and women opt for Kancheepuram sarees and ethnic jewellery. The houses are cleaned and decorated with fresh flowers, guests are invited, and special dishes are served to celebrate Puthandu.

In some localities around Madurai, Tirunelveli and Tiruchirappalli, dance-dramas like Oyilattam are staged to narrate tales from the Puranas, especially about Lord Muruga.

Puthandu Food

Puthandu Food

Just like any other festival, Puthandu is no exception when it comes to food. The authentic Puthandu spread comprises of lip-smacking delicacies ranging in flavour from sweet to sour and spicy to bitter. Of the eclectic choice of dishes, the must-haves on the menu are mangai pachadi, a kind of sweet and sour mango preparation and veppanbu pachadi, a bitter-sweet concoction of neem, tamarind, jaggery and mangoes.

Apart from the essentials, other popular servings include the kosambari salad prepared with split-green gram (moong dal), vadas filled with stuffings and deep fried into crunchy bites, payasam which is a sort of a dip made of milk, lentils and polis that are a sweet-dish prepared from split chickpeas, jaggery and coconut ensconced in flour envelops.

Some more go-to favourites from the Puthandu food culture include Sakkarai Pongal (a sweet porridge made of rice, yellow moong dal and jaggery), Avial (a high-calorie dish prepared with vegetables in coconut sauce and curry leaves), Cabbage poriyal (sautéed and steamed cabbage cooled in a spicy gravy), Vazhakkai curry (a special festive dish made of raw bananas cooked in a coconut based masala sauce), Veppam poo rasam (an appetizing soup made from dried neem leaves stirred in rasam), Manga oorugai (fresh raw mangoes pickled in sesame oil and flavoured with mustard seeds), Panagam (jaggery water with cardamom powder), and Curd.


Besides many things, Puthandu as a festival is symptomatic of the diversity and communal spirit that this country upholds. Soaked in sight, sound, taste, and colours, Puthandu celebrations are a treat for both the eyes and the mind. The festival marks a moment of transition from an end to a beginning. It heralds hope and optimism for Tamilians besides allowing scope for social interaction and the possibility for renewal of familial bonds.

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