The New Year(s) of an ancient living tradition

While the Chinese around the world collectively celebrate, with pride, a New Year that has a different root than the more contemporary Gregorian New Year, the linguistic groups of South Asian origin, may be found celebrating their respective traditional New Years, perhaps with some hesitation and definitely with a question mark. The attitude differences provide an interesting contrast considering the fact that the basis for all Asian New Years are lunar/solar calendars invented millennia ago. The modern Chinese society appears to have integrated a better understanding of their cultural inheritance than the modern Indian society. An objection may be that the Indian subcontinent is a collection of many linguistic groups while the Chinese society is not.

Ugadi is the name for the new year of Telugu and Kannada speaking community. The Marathi speaking community claims the name Gudi Padva to be the name for the New Year day and the Sindhi community names the occasion as Cheti-Chand.  At least these four linguistic groups share a common date. The shared date among the Tamil, Punjabi, Bengali, Assami, Oriya speaking communities follows within two weeks. Both are solar-lunar calender systems with the former favoring moon's position to mark the first day of the year while the latter the sun's. Everyone knows that the earth arrives at the exact same point* on its orbit around the sun on Jan 1st of each year but only a few know the fact that the earth arrives at a point from which the Sun/Moon match up better against the same segment of the cosmos on the New Year's day on the solar-lunar calendar system.

A world is a better place when all ethnic groups feel pride in their respective cultural heritage while also respecting the diversity of each others experiences. An interesting story about the Sindhi New Year Cheti-Chand illustrates how stress can develop in any community when psychological or economical pressure is used to convert from one faith to another. Vote bank politics in modern India continues to be the main culprit upholding the ignorance among the ethnic and linguistic masses about a common heritage. Surely more intellectuals will become aware of this as all linguistic groups celebrate the arrival of this New Year dedicated to Manmatha-Enchanting on their traditional calendar systems.

* The New Year Point of the Hindi and Gujrati speaking communities are simply 180 degrees away from the Ugadi point just like the New Year point of the Chinese is 30 degrees away from the Ugadi point. Ugadi means the start of a new Yuga or an Era