For Ever New!
On December 31 if you wish New Year to old-timers in Kerala as well as in other parts of India, they may not share the same enthusiasm as you have. For them, the New Year could be in April or September, or August as they don’t follow the Gregorian calendar. In Kerala, as per the Malayalam calendar, the New Year begins on Chingam 1 corresponding to a date in August or September. After a harsh Karkidakam season which brings a lot of misery, diseases, heavy rains, destruction, hardships and even hunger, Chingam heralds hope and coincides with harvest season culminating in the colourful Onam festival.
We also have a Solar New Year which begins on the day of Vishu and as per Gregorian calendar in mid-April and it connotates the completion of the spring equinox. It is also celebrated in different names in Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It is celebrated as Vaisakhi by Hindus and Sikhs in North-Central India. It may also be coinciding with the Rabi season (or winter crop) harvest of April.
For farmers cultivating new crops, the new year may be the beginning of a new season or harvest time. For eg. Sugar season begins in October and ends in September. We have two seasons for food grains- Kharif and Rabi. Kharif begins with sowing in July as South-West monsoon spreads across the country. For a Rabi season farmer, October is the time of hope as he sows the seeds.
Irrespective of when New Year is celebrated, it heralds a new beginning of hope- ringing out the old and ringing in the new. It is in the biology of nature to constantly replenish itself as every living cell dies and get replaced in quick succession. On the last day of Karkidakam in Kerala, people clean up the houses and throw away useless articles and things bringing freshness to our homes. Yes, indeed every New Year is a time for renewal.