New Year arrives in some parts of Asia every April, around 13th to 15th. India celebrates new year under various names and with many different traditions – such as Ugadi in Karnataka, Vishu in Kerala, Baisakhi in Punjab and many more. Nepal observes Nava Varsha. Thailand celebrates Songkran, which is a bit like Holi in India as it involves water play and a bit like the Thingyan, the Myanmar New Year. Sri Lanka calls their festival Avurudu, which seems to have customs close to the Tamilian new year Puthandu or that of Karnataka. Bangladesh livens up with a national festival, called Pohela Boisakh, which is a bit different from the Polia Baisakh celebrations in the Eastern parts of India.
Intrinsic to all these is the joie de vivre of the festivities whether with water play, food, Bhangra dancing or with Rabindra Sangeet. To get into the spirit of things, here is a translation of Tagore and a small video of a dance performance to celebrate all these Asian new years. This song by Tagore, Esho He Baishakh, is especially relevant at this juncture because it talks of the New Year clearing the world from all diseases that weaken and kill humanity. May we all have a glorious entry into the New Year and may the world heal from this nagging pandemic.
Come O Baisakh! (A translation of Tagore's Esho He Boisakh, Esho, Esho, 1927) Hail O baisakh! Welcome. Blow away deadly diseases with your ascetic breath. May the debris from the old year disappear. Let go of old memories, let go of old melodies. May sorrows and tears evaporate. Wipe away slanders, wipe away infirmities. May the Earth be purified by fire. Wither obsessive unhealthy passions. Summon a storm with a conch call to Transfigure the misty webs woven by Maya*. *Maya is an illusory play of divine intervention.
Greetings again for all Asian New Years from Borderless Journal!
(Written and translated by Mitali Chakravarty on behalf of Borderless Journal)