The Sinhala and Tamil New Year (Avurudu/Puththandu) is a national holiday in Sri Lanka, celebrated on April 14. This year, I was invited to attend Albuquerque’s small Sri Lankan community New Year celebration. To open the festivities, a lamp lighting ceremony was held.
Sri Lankans traditionally begin celebrations and festivals with a lamp lighting ceremony. At our event, there was an intricately designed brass standing lamp topped by a golden jungle fowl. Five candles were lit in a spoke-like pattern on a star-like dish surrounding the central staff.
Had we been in Sri Lanka, coconut oil would have been used as lamp fuel. Here in America, tea-light candles were substituted. The lamp burned for the duration of the cultural event.
The New Year’s celebration is marked by religious ceremonies, family activities, traditional foods, colorful decorations and a general feeling of good will toward neighbors and friends.