The most significant festival of Sri Lankans comes on April or ‘Bak’ every year. Being a significant festival to everyone, the Sinhala and Tamil New Year is celebrated with much pomp and fanfare. During this period, the whole country takes on a festive mood as people gear up for the upcoming celebrations by cleaning homes, shopping and making New Year sweetmeats, to begin the New Year on a joyous and positive note.
The annual transition of the Sun from Pisces (Meena Rashiya) to Aries (Mesha Rashiya) marks the beginning of Aluth Avurudu. the Sinhalese traditional New Year begins at a time determined by astrological calculations. Usually April 14th is considered as the New Year Day while 13th of April considered as the day prior to the New Year Day or the ‘Parana Aurudhdha. The ending of the old year, and the beginning of the new year occur several hours apart from one another (this span of time is usually 12 hours and 48 minutes, which starts when the sun, as a disk, starts to cross the astrological boundary between ‘House of Pisces’ and ‘House of Aries’ and ends when the crossing is complete. The halfway point is considered as the dawn of the New Year). This period is, referred to as the Nonagathe (or the ‘neutral period’ or ‘Auspicious Time’). During this time Sri Lankans are, according to tradition, encouraged to refrain from material pursuits, and engage solely in either religious activities or traditional games.
There is an auspicious time to start every work that was stopped during the ‘nonagathya period’. For every work, there is an auspicious time. For example, there are auspicious times to lit the hearth (Lipa gini melaweema), take first meal at the Avurudu table (Ahara anubawaya), Performing rituals and exchanging money (Wada alleema saha ganu denu kireema) Friendly exchange of sweets amongst neighbours, applying herbal ointment (Hisa thel gama), going for jobs (Rajakari sandaha pitathwa yama) and so on.