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Greetings at the onset of a brand new year!
When does a new year begin?
When do we actually say Happy New Year?
To think about it, does New Year happen only on 1 January every year?
I took some time out to reflect on this whole idea of a new year, and came up with some thoughts. Here they are.
In the deep, dark forests of the Amazon and in the unexplored wilderness of Africa, the onset of the rains, or the first blossoms on fruit trees might herald a new season, and therefore the start of a new year. That could be at any time of the year, not specifically 1 January, of course.
If you lived in China, it can be a bit confusing, because there they follow the lunisolar calendar, and therefore the new year can creep up on you when you are least expecting it. It can and does change every year. And while some of us are still celebrating 2019 around here, the Chinese have reached 4716 already over there, according to the calendar which they follow. That is many New Year days ahead of most of us, I am afraid.
For the record, the Chinese New Year is approximately at the end of January, and running all the way to the middle of February every year. In 2019, it will fall on 5 February. Considering that between India and China we account for a lot of the people on the planet, we must take note that a large number of people send greetings for a new year at a completely different time of the year.
Closer home. If we were from Punjab, or from Kerala, or we are Marwari or Parsi, we would be saying happy New Year at some other time, and in some other ways.
Things are, outside of the buzzing cities, a little different out there. The Telegu New Year Ugadi is observed on the bright full moon day of the first month of springtime. If you are in Bengal in mid-April, you will hear people wishing each other "Shubo Nabo Barsho". This is a festival in the month of Baisakh, first month of the Bengali New Year.
In neighbouring Sri Lanka , as in the Punjab, new year arrives also in April. According to the Sinhalese tradition, in April, when the sun moves from Meena Rashiya, the house of Pisces to Mesha Rashiya, the house of Aries, it is believed that the Prince of peace descends upon earth, thereby ushering in the new year or Aluth Avurudhu as known in Sinhala. In Punjab, 13 April marks Baisakhi, which traditionally heralds the onset of a new year. It is also the first day of the Nanakshahi calendar, and which incidentally will only be (about) their 550th year of celebrating new years, unlike the Chinese, who have been at it for a very long time!
Jamshedi Navroz is the Parsi New Year. It usually falls on 21 March. The Parsi New Year was named after the legendary King of Persia, Jamshed who started the Parsi calendar. As per the Parsi mythology, the universe is recreated on this day and life with all its glory is cherished. Navroz means spring and it is believed that Mother Nature casts her spell by dressing up like a young bride. And here is something even more confusing and interesting – Parsis in India and Pakistan celebrate the Parsi New Year about 200 days after it is celebrated everywhere else!
For the Muslims, the New Year is a cultural event which they observe on the first day of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar, which follows the lunar cycle. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year, Muharram and New Year migrate. The Islamic year