Sri Lankan New Year

On the month of April in some parts of the world; what would be likely observed is Maundy Thursday, Good Friday & Easter Monday. Those who follow the traditional customs mentioned above may start in preparation for them spiritually or follow the customaries to be carried out. To some, these mentioned events hold great importance. While some are preparing for the month of April in one way, in another part preparation of another sort would be occurring.

Most Sri Lankans celebrate the Sinhalese and Tamil New year. I’d describe Sri Lanka as a unique pearl shaped Island in the Indian Ocean. Other common terms Sri Lanka is known to be referred to be Ceylon, Serendib and Teardrop/Pearl of the Indian Ocean. The Sinhalese and Tamil New year falls on every month of April, the exact day can vary. As it is an astrologically significant day and marks the end of the harvest season. For Sri Lankans, the Sinhalese and Tamil New year or for ease in use the Sri Lankan New Year places the importance on customs and rituals to be observed. The other side to it is the time to spend with friends and family. For a traveller, it’s an opportunity to take back home an authentic experience that originates from Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan New Year is celebrated in countries around the world by Sri Lankan expatriates and citizens originating from Sri Lanka. However, there isn’t a Sinhalese and Tamil New year quite like the one celebrated in Sri Lanka. If it’s the most authentic Sri Lankan New Year experience sought after, you’ll find it in Sri Lanka.

Things to look forward to the Sri Lankan New Year would be observing and partaking in the customs and rituals. Examples of customs being, newly bought clothes, preparation of traditional food and sweets. Examples of rituals are the auspicious times for the last bathing for the Old Year, the dawn of the New Year and the time to leave for work. Since the New Year takes into account the old and the New Year the customs observed are too lengthy for the traveller who’s on the move from one location to the next making the most of their stay. However, hotels do a great job immersing their guests to as many of the customs and rituals they can squeeze into one day. As a traveller, you can roughly expect the outline below. The guest would surely hear the Koha in the morning. The Koha mating call coincides with the New Year season in April and is associated with that of an announcement; that the New Year is here. At the restaurant hotel staff would treat guests to another sound the ‘hak gediya’, made from a conch shell. It’s blown to announce the start of ceremonial events, in which would be the lighting of the traditional oil lamp. To prepare the traditional food and sweets consumed on New Year’s Day can be a tedious task in preparation. The product at the end is worth it and as such; mostly done on special occasions. It’s a privilege to have all the traditional food and sweets laid out in the restaurant. Most Sri Lankans wouldn’t have the time to prepare the same spread as done in the hotel due to the effort involved. However, households would have worked out their favourite sweets to prepare and forgo other treats having more quantities of the most sought after for in the household. For the guest however to have that many made available should force one to take small portions, to be able to sample all on offer. Depending on how you leave the restaurant content or overly content would factor on if you’ll be a participant or more of an observer for the next upcoming events.

After having a lovely assortment of food and sweets; use that sugar intake to good use by taking part in the Avurudu Uthsawaya games. One for the kids would be the lime and teaspoon race, where you go about balancing a lime on the spoon bowl and the handle firmly clenched in your mouth running to the finish line. That’s not all of the games for the kids though. The ones that follow are for all ages too. Let’s take a pause from running events, how about seeing something explode into pieces and getting a giggle out of it. Or better yet poleaxe a high-strung clay pot. While being blindfolded and instructed to walk a few steps toward what can be described as an unusually high clothesline, lined with clay pots. The lucky participant gets to poleaxe the clay pot and narrowly escape the spray of water or gift the next participant with the chance to poleaxe the clay pot still taunting above. While that event took your fancy maybe the next one is best taken up by your partner. A bun that is just the right sweetness is hung by a string and the contestant kneels down with their hands tied behind their backs. The objective is to eat the bun as quickly as they can to win. Watching your partner, you would have given words of motivation like come on attack it this way, keep your head up or open wider. Your partner the whole time wishing to trade places and see how hard it is. To which they will get their chance. I’m sure your partner who participated in the bunis event, would insist you to take part in the next event. To why this is will all be very apparent, your partner would dash to where you are. Where just as your partner had hands tied behind their back yours would be too with an addition of a blindfold. Don’t be worried, that is of the game of course. But should be more worried about your partner facing you with a small plastic spoon in hand where you attempt to consume the entire yoghurt cup till it finishes. When you do find the task hard being blindfolded. I’m sure it’s not any easier having your partner doing small corrections with the yoghurt spoon in pretence at attempts to get the spoon close to your mouth. But somehow manages to mostly get yoghurt ending up inside your new shirt or all over your face.

The list of games still continues and will be peppered out till it reaches that time of the day where a little nap would be just the thing. The games mentioned above would be most likely to be witnessed at a hotel and what others would come I’m sure you’ll find them all enjoyable. After enjoying participating in your first “Avurudu Uthsawaya” the next day you can reflect back at all the fun on that day while travelling down the long roads to your next destination hoping at the next hotel, they serve the selection you have made in mind to try again at the restaurant.

If you’re looking to travel in the month of April, we hope you would choose to visit Sri Lanka. Please get in touch with us with your requirements and we’ll more than happy to reply back to you. Email us at

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