'Puthandu', commonly known as Tamil New Year, is celebrated in the month of 'Chittarai' ,according to the tamil calendar, i.e. mid April to mid May. This is the most auspicious occassion for all the Tamilians living all over the world. According to Hindu Mythology, this is the day on which Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe, started the creation of the world. People greet each other on this day by saying 'Iniya Tamizh Puthaandu Nalvazhthukkal'. Puthandu is celebrated in every home in the states of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. This auspicious day is also popular as 'Varusha Pirappuv'.
The main attraction of this festival if the traditional food called 'Manga Pachadi'. People rise early at the morning, clean their homes and decorate those with color designs called 'Kolam' and hang mango leaves on the doorway. Sometimes, a decorated lamp kuthuvillakku is placed in the center of colorful Kolam to bring light to the house. They go for 'kanni' – the auspicious sight at the early morning. The belief is that this brings good fortune throughout the year. The auspicious things may include gold and silver jewellery, betel leaves, nuts, fruits and vegetables, flowers, raw rice and coconuts etc. The auspicious sight is then followed by a ritual bath and visiting temple to pray for a prosperous and happy New Year. After which, the 'Panchangam' i.e. the almanac is read. Then they prepare the dish which is made of raw mangoes, jaggery and neem flowers, tasting sweet, sour and bitter one at the same time. This signifies all aspects of their life and tells them to face happiness and sorrow with equal ease.
On this day several fairs and cultural programs are organised at different places all over the state. A grand Car Festival is held at Tiruvadamarudur near Kumbakonam every year on April 14th. Madurai witnesses marriage of Goddess Meenakshi or Parvati to Lord Sundareswarar commonly known as Lord Shiva in the form of ‘Chitthirai festival’ with great grandeur. Offerings to the deities, comprising of food, flowers and fruits is an important component of the festival. This occassion of feasting and mwrrymaking is observed by exchanging gifts with each other. Children are presented small gifts or cash as a token of blessing on this auspicious occassion.