Travelling in Sri Lanka in April
“When is the best time to travel to Sri Lanka?”, ” Is travelling in Sri Lanka in April recommended?”. 2 questions asked by a large number of foreign travellers. If someone asks the same question from me, I would like to say, the best time to travel to Sri Lanka is from November to April, the 6 months parallel to the dry-weather on the southern and western coast of Sri Lanka. April marks the end of the peak holiday season in Sri Lanka, during which a large number of foreign travellers arrive in the country.
Generally, April is a dry month and most cities of Sri Lanka have dry weather. Most importantly the areas, where the tourists roam such as cultural cities, mountains, southern coast and west coast have dry weather.
April considered being the most beautiful month of the island of Sri Lanka. The month marks the start of New Year according to the solar calendar or Tamil, Sinhalese New Year.
The celebration takes place throughout the island and is dating back to more than 2,000 years. For the Sri Lankans April is the month of revival, rebirth, rejuvenate and rebirth. This is the time of harvesting crops and storing the bountiful harvest. The beginning of the year marked in harmony with Mother Nature.
This solar calendar based event considered one of the oldest folk festivals in the world. The event is revolving around the movements of the sun and the other planets in the solar systems. The movement of the sun to the first zodiac of the system marks the beginning of the New Year.
The celebration can last for a period of five days to over a week, which is mainly decided by the various customs and rituals. It is believed that the beginning of Sinhala, Tamil New Year is closely related to the harvest festival, which marks the gathering of the harvest of the crops or most important point of the production cycle. The event is closely observing the astrological phases of the sun.
In the solar calendar, the sun is moving through all twelve zodiac signs within a year. The month of April marks the ending of such a journey of the sun and marks the beginning of a New Year.
Unlike other New Year celebrations ending the old year followed by a Nonagatha (inauspicious time). During this time the sun is in limbo, according to the astrology. This period lasts a few hours before starting the New Year and time is making use of in the religious activities. The inauspicious time it not used to engage in important activities.
According to the astrology, Meena Rashi (Pisces) is the last zodiac sign that the sun passes its way to the new beginning. Moving the sun to Mesha Rashi (Aries) marks the beginning of the New Year. Sinhalese and Tamils welcome the New Year with traditional customs. Like in many old civilizations Sri Lankan uses fire to marks the beginning of New Year.
Sri Lankans starts to make all the preparation to welcome the New Year months ahead of the event. Proper celebration needs at least a few weeks’ preparations. New clothes are bought for every family member to wear on the day of the New Year; the colour of the clothes should match with the auspicious colours designated by the astrologers.
The houses are cleaned and renew the colour in order to give it a facelift. One important part of the celebration is the preparation of traditional sweetmeats. The cleaning and extinguishing of the hearth is the next event for the celebration.
Making a new fire on an auspicious day according to the auspicious time ends the inauspicious time. Family members are not engaging any activity (no work, no visits) during the inauspicious period. When the New Year arrives people light the firecrackers and dressed in the predetermined colour.
A ceremonially prepared first meal of the Year, with the harvest collected from the rice cultivation, is partaken among the family members at an auspicious time. Ganu Denu or first business transaction is performed afterwards.
With the ending of rituals of the New Year, it is time to perform traditional sports. Some of the popular activities are blind man’s bluff, tug-of-war and pillow fights. “Hisa thel Gama” or anointing of the head with oil takes place generally two days after the advents of the new year.
Oil which is made to a special Ayurveda recipe using a large number of herbs applied on the head of each member of the family while the blessing is chanted. New Year celebration ends with setting off to work on an auspicious time designated by astrologers. One leaves the house facing the auspicious direction dressed inauspicious colour.