Celebrating the new year is an ancient and international tradition that people across cultures participate in. It originated around 2000 B.C. in Mesopotamia where the Babylonians celebrated the new year in March. The early Roman calendar designated March 1st to be the new year as it only had 10 months. The month of January did not even exist until around 700 B.C. It was created along with February by the second king of Rome, Numa Pontilius.
In 46 B.C., Julius Caeser replaced the lunar Roman calendar with a more accurate, solar-based one called The Julian calendar decreeing that the new year would occur with January 1. But in the middle ages it was abolished again as the celebrations were considered pagan and unchristian like. Finally in 1582, the Gregorian calendar reform restored January 1 as the new year and which became a worldwide norm.
In the west alone, the new year has had a dynamic history. Hence, it goes without saying that with India's diverse and eclectic cultures, we would have our own plethora of new year celebrations. So we have curated a list of the 9 new years that multiple communities across the various regions in our country celebrate.
Derived from the Sanskrit words yuga (age) and adi (beginning), Ugadi translates to 'the beginning of a new age'. Celebrated especially in the southern states of Telangana, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh, Ugadi is a spring festival that falls in the Chaitra month of the Hindu lunarian calendar. On the day, people participate in the festivities, which include offering prayers, drawing rangoli (colored patterns of flowers, powder, rice, or sand made on the floor), and feasting on traditional Ugadi dishes like pachidi (a sweet syrup) prepared with raw mangoes, and neem leaves.
Ugadi 2023 will be celebrated on March 22.
Gudi Padwa is the Marathi and Konkani new year marking the beginning of harvest season. It's celebrated on the same day as Ugadi, the first day of Chaitra month of the Hindu calendar. Gudi Padwa is also popularly known as Samvatsara Padvo and it literally means the first day of new Samvat (year). Gudi Padwa gets its name from two words - ‘gudi’, which means a flag or emblem of Lord Brahma and ‘padwa’ means the first day of the phase of the moon. On this day, people hoist the Gudi flags symbolizing Lord Bramha's creation of the universe and delicacies like Puran Poli and Shrikhand are prepared and shared among family and friends.
Guda Padwa 2023 is on March 22.
Baisakhi is the Punjabi version of Ugadi and Gudi Padwa. It is the biggest harvest festival celebrated across the entirety of North India. Baisakhi holds a special place in the 'land of five rivers'. Commemorating the first day of Vaisakh, the second month of the Hindu calendar, the Sikh community of Punjab also celebrates this day as the formation of the Sikh Khalsa. It is celebrated mainly at the birthplace of the Khalsa and the Golden Temple in Amritsar. On the day, people enjoy parades and special processions through the streets called 'nagar kirtans' from the Guru Granth Sahib, which is the Sikh holy book. Some commonly prepared dishes during Baisakhi are Kadhi, Meethe Peele Chawal, and Mango Lassi.
Baisakhi 2023 is on April 14.
Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu also called Xaat Bihu marks the beginning of the Assamese New Year and signifies the harvest season and the beginning of spring season. It is celebrated with colorful and vibrant clothes with young boys and girls donning dhoti, gamosa and saadar mekhela while they perform Bihu songs and dances showcasing the culture and the significance of Bohag Bihu. The festival spans across seven days known as known as Chot Bihu, Goru Bihu, Manuh Bihu, Kutum Bihu, Senehi Bihu, Mela Bihu and Chera Bihu. Some traditional Bohag Bihu dishes are Ghila Pitha (Fried sweets) Poka Mithoi (rice powder and jaggery balls) and Omitar Khar (a savoury, alkaline papaya dish).
Bohag Bihu 2023 begins on April 13 and ends on April 19.
Jur Sital or Satuani is the celebration of the first day of the Maithili new year and is also called Aakhar Bochhor. It's celebrated in the Mithila region of India and Nepal. This is a water festival that is celebrated on the occasion of Mesh Sankranti. Jur Sital translates to 'freezing cold'. Since this festival is associated with reducing the heat in both literal and figurative senses, Maithili people do not cook food on this day and consume the food already prepared a day ago like Badi-Bhaat (curry and rice). The youngsters splash mud at each other in celebration and a variety of cultural programs are also held.
Jur Sital 2023 is on April 14.
Navroz or Nowruz is the Parsi new year translating to 'new day'. This tradition of celebrating the new year is believed to have been observed by Iranians and Zorastians for the past 3,000 years as it marks the beginning of the Iranian calendar and is celebrated to date by the Parsi community around the world. The festival of Navroz or Jamshed-i-Navroz/Jamshed-i-Nouroz is named after the Persian king, Jamshed, who is credited for creating the Persian or the Shahenshahi calendar. Delicacies like Prawn Patio, Mori Dar, Patra Ni Macchi, Haleem, Falooda, etc. are whipped up in Parsi kitchens for a traditional Navroz spread.
Navroz 2023 is on March 21.
Pohela Boishakh is the Bengali new year celebrated in the month of Baisakh, the first month of the Bengali calendar. Celebration of Pohela Boishakh traces its roots back to Mughal rule in this region and also the proclamation of tax collection reforms of Akbar. The festival is celebrated with processions, fairs and family time. For business and shop owners, Poila Baisakh also marks the beginning of a new financial year and the owners then open a new ledger book on the occasion. On the day, people decorate their homes with traditional designs called 'alpona' and enjoy delicacies, including ilish maach, dhokar dalna, rice, sweets, and chanar dal.
Pohela Boishakh 2023 is on April 15.
Awal Muharram or the Islamic new year starts on the first day of Muharram, which is the first month of the lunar Hijri calendar followed by Islam. It is one of the four sacred months of the year when warfare is forbidden. It is held to be the second holiest month after Ramadan. Its first day also marks the migration of Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD. The journey was called Hijrah or Hijri, hence the name Hijri calendar. The New Year is celebrated by reciting Quranic verses and holding prayers and sermons in mosques. Generally, the celebrations aren't grand and the day is spent in contemplation and reflection. Some delicacies enjoyed on this day are Zarda rice, chicken haleem, rasmalai and kebabs.
The Islamic New Year 2023 begins on July 18.
Vishu, the traditional Malayali New Year, is a Hindu festival celebrated in the Indian states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnatak and Mahe district, Puducherry. The festival marks the first day of Medam, the first month of the Malayalam calendar. It symbolizes the movement of the sun to the MeshaRashi (Aries) and marks the beginning of the spring season. The day is celebrated by early morning prayers, firecrackers, gifting family and friends and enjoying dishes like Vishu Katta (a breakfast of rice cake made with raw rice and coconut milk), Vishu Kanji (rice porridge), Uniyappam (sweet fritters) and Mambazha Pradhaman (mango kheer).
Vishu 2023 is on April 15.