By Pradeep Kumar
NAHARLAGUN, Apr 13: April 14, celebrated as Pana Sankranti or Poila Boishak, synonymous to New Year festival, is the traditional New Year day festival of Buddhists and Hindus, considered to be the birthday of Hanuman.
This is identical to the purnimanta system of lunar month Baisakh (on Indian national system, it is the 24th day of Chaitra). It therefore almost always falls on April 14 every year on the Gregorian calendar.
Feasts and special drinks, such as a chilled sweet mango-milk-yoghurt-coconut drink called Pana, from which the name has been derived, is offered as a tradition.
Pana Sankranti is similar to New Year festivals observed by Hindus elsewhere, such as Vaisakhi (north and central India), Bihu (Assam), Pohela Boisakh (Begal, Tripura and Bangladesh), Puthandu (Tamil Nadu), Bikram Samwat/Vaishak Ek in Nepal, Aluth Avuruthu in Sri Lanka, Songkran in Thailand, Chol Chnam Thmey in Cambodia, Songkran/Pi Mai Lao in Laos and Thingyam in Burma.
This New Year day is celebrated in other names, like Vaisakhi by Hindus and Sikhs in north and central India, which too marks the solar New Year. The same day every year is also the New Year for many Buddhist communities in parts of Southeast Asia such as Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Cambodia, likely an influence of their shared culture in the 1st millennium CE. Some examples include:
However, this is not the universal New Year for all Hindus. For some, such as those in and near Gujarat, the New Year festivities coincide with the five day Diwali festival. For many others, the New Year falls on Ugadi and Gudi Padwa, which falls a few weeks earlier.
By Pradeep Kumar