Yet Another Indian New Year

Oh man, is it Navroz already? How did this happen? I remember Navroz happening when I was still at my last job, and thatwas surely just a few months back!Or was it?

Time, you’d better slow down, buddy.

You know, as an Indian, I always feel we tend to hit middle-age (and pot-bellies) quicker than most because we live through a dozen new years in each calendar year. First, towards the end of our tropical winter, there’s the English or Western New Year. Everyone parties hard and eats western food, and then dead-walks back to work the next day. If you’re in the much-ignored North-east India, though, you’ll notice the fun really begins once January has properly taken hold. In Mizoram, there is something called the New Year Festival, and it takes place on the third of Jan, not the first (or even the second). I know this because they list it on the official holiday list for the state. The Naga new year Kaing Bi is further in, on the fifteenth. Rounding up January festivities comes Bam Khana Shnong, the community feast celebrated by Khasis in Meghalaya. It’s not strictly a new year, but prayers are offered at the feast for a good new year, which I understand follows closely after the feast.

February passes without event.

In March, coinciding roughly with the Bengali month Chaitra, spring sets in. Or it used to, before industrialisation killed our six-season cycle and left us with just three – hot, cool, and rainy. So anyway, around what would once have been spring, the first wave of ‘ethnic’ New Years kick in, all over the country. Telugu people celebrate Yugadi, Marathi people Gudi Padwa, Rajasthani people Thapna, Sindhi folks Cheti Chand, and Manipuri people Sajibu Nongma Pangma.

Then, when days are getting nicely sweaty and mangoes are beginning to show up in the market, my people celebrate their big day, Nawbo Borsho, along with the Punjabis (Vaisakhi), Tamils (Puthandu), and the Assamese (Rongila Bihu). I believe the Oriya Pana Sankranti also falls on this day, but I’m not completely certain.

The rest of the year goes slowly by, till we arrive at Diwali, usually in October, when Marwaris and the Gujaratis – two of the most prominent business communities in India – celebrate their new year on Diwali. Muharram also tends to fall on October, though not everybody celebrates the first day of Muharram as ‘new year’s day’.

Finally, come December, while the rest of us are still dragging the old year around, tribal communities of Tripura end theirs with Tring. And that brings us right back to the Western New Year. A year has passed, and we in India have lived through at least four sets of new years. Pat those bellies, people!

Oh, and happy Parsi New Year, everybody! I am now off to steal some of your eggs.

BONUS: Classic Parsi ‘akuri’ recipe for you lot to try at home. Go for it!


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