Feature Article

Tamil Nadu Assembly restores April New Year

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 23 August 2011, 12:56 GMT]
The Tamil Nadu State Assembly on Tuesday resolved to restore Chiththirai 1 (April 14) as the official New Year of Tamils and of the state, in lines with the traditional almanacs. In 2008 January, the previous state government led by Mr M. Karunanidhi resolved in the assembly to declare Thai 1, the Thaip-pongkal day (January 14), as the New Year Day of Tamils. Both days are astronomical and are of the solar calendar. They are reckoned by calculating the entry of the Sun into the mathematical points or beginnings of the signs of Aries and Capricorn respectively, according to the Fixed Zodiac system of the traditional almanacs.

Tamils, Malayalis and Sinhalese in the southern part of South Asia, and Assamese, Panjabis, Bengalis, Oriyas, Manipuris and Nepalis in the northern part celebrate the Chiththirai (April) New Year.

In the rest of India, the traditional New Year is mostly celebrated according to a lunar calendar and the day may vary during March/ April.

Outside of South Asia, the Chiththirai New Year, marking the entry of the Sun into Aries, is celebrated in Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.

The first degree of Aries is recognised as the first degree of the zodiac in the ancient astronomy of the civilisations of both the East and the West. The entry of the Sun into the Aries marks the beginning of spring.

The day celebrated as Thaip-Pongkal by Tamils, marking the entry of the Sun into Capricorn, is also celebrated in the rest of India under the name Makara Sankranti and it is a national holiday in India.

The first degree of Capricorn is the 271st degree of the zodiac and entry of the Sun into it marks the transit of the Sun from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere of the earth.

The New Year day is also associated with different eras just like the January 1 New Year Day is associated with the Christian era.

Almost all the different eras that were historically followed in South Asia took Chiththirai 1 as the beginning of the year. One exception is the Kollam era of Kerala that begins in the month of August/ September with the Sun’s entry into Leo or the 121st degree of the zodiac.

Besides its association with the various historical eras, such as the Kali era, Salivahana era etc., the Chiththirai New Year especially in southern India, is associated with an Astronomical era that has a 60-year cycle.

This is reckoned by the relative position of Jupiter and Saturn in the zodiac in every solar year. The same relative position of the said major planets in the solar system will repeat in every 60 years.

For instance, at the beginning of the current solar year, Jupiter was at Pisces and Saturn was at Virgo. The same relative position will come only after 60 years.

This 60-year-era associated with the Chiththirai New Year was traditionally used for mainly assessing the annual climate and natural happenings in advance.

In 2008, along with declaring Thaip-Pongkal as Tamil New Year day, Mr Karunanidhi also officialised an era called Thiruva’l’luvar era.

The era, marking the birth of the ancient Tamil poet Thiruva’l’lvar was initiated a few decades ago on assumptions of the time of Thiruval’luvar. But most of the Tamil literary historians don’t agree with the date of Thiruva’l’luvar going before the Christian era.

13.04.08  Tamil New Year

Related Articles:
13.04.11   British PM extends greetings on Tamil New Year
11.01.11   Canada greets Tamils for Thaippongkal
15.04.07   Harper extends greetings on New Year


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