Celebrating the Avuruddha
We wish our readers Subha Aluth Avurudhak, Puthandu Valthukal and Happy New Year almost two days before the Avuruddha dawns because the stars and traditions have so deemed it.
The birds are chirping, the Koha has been striking its melodious notes for some weeks, the Eradbudumal are aflame and the mango trees are dripping with luscious ripened golden fruits. Everything is wonderful in-as some would have it- this Garden of Eden-or Paradise as the Tourist Board blurbs say and Sri Lankans are preparing days ahead to celebrate their New Year. Work or cessation of activities as the astrologers say, is grinding to a halt and even though journalists of The Island are prepared to do their daily grind during the festivities, not so the others in the press gang. The Island cannot be printed on Monday because even if it does roll out of the press, the newspaper boys cannot distribute it during the Nonagathe period- the auspicious period, when all work has to cease. Some are already in salubrious Nuwara Eliya or in exotic tourist resorts and others are going home to their villages to celebrate the event, as their ancestors have done since time immemorial.
Hectic shopping marked the last two weeks and gifts collected-for grandparents, parents, children and even the in- laws-little remaining of the April pay packet. But who cares? These are done things for the Avuruddha, says a colleague who has stocked up his pettagama with bottles of the Golden Water from the Tree of Life.
It is difficult to get to the villages during this season unlike in earlier times. The buses are already chock-a-block. So will be the trains. In recent years it takes as much as 10 hours to get into a bus from the Pettah bus stand and you will be lucky to get a seat. The population has been booming but not so the number of buses on the roads.
Why not stay in Colombo and enjoy the KKKK-Kavun, Kokkis, Kiributh and Kolikuttu a Colombo Johnnie asks a Kandyan colleague and he receives a look of utter disdain. These decadent Colombo Johnnies dont know what it is to enjoy the Avuruddha in silvern surroundings, appear to be the thinking of the provincials.
And so, as ordained by the likes such as The Island astrologer Sugathadasa Jayasekera, when the auspicious day and time comes, April 14, Monday 12.51pm, the hearth is lit facing East and Kiributh is cooked. But you will not be able to eat it till 2.15 pm. The heretics may be inclined to have a swig of the Golden Water from the Tree of Life but astrologers and medicine men will advise you strongly against it.
Only at 2. 15 pm wearing clothes in pearly white and facing east can you begin tucking in the 4Ks. Bathing, applying oil on the head etc will all be done according to auspicious times. And avurudddhu is all about doing these things on time even though we Sri Lankans from top to bottom find it quite difficult to keep to time.
Finally, on April 21, Monday at 7. 18 in the morning you are to set out for work, dressed, once again, in pearly white facing South after Kiributh cooked in cows milk.
However, the Avurudhu tradition has been that this time has been rarely kept. Traditionalists who disagree with us should turn up at offices, particularly government offices, to determine whether this practice is kept or not.
The experience is that it takes about two weeks after New Year celebrations for a return to normalcy at workplaces. Work-study specialists may tear their hair and want to ban the avurudhu celebrations. Editors and production managers will bawl at each other with only single editions coming out in the post Avuruddhu period and industrialists may threaten to commit suicide on failing to complete export orders on time.
But this is Avuruddhu and like all good things it comes only once a year.
We wish our readers a jolly and merry and prosperous New Year.
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