Indians are celebrating two New Year Days! Every Year! One is the New Year Day based on the local Lunar Calendar, a different one for different regions of the country. These are the traditional and religious New Year Day Festivals celebrated since ancient times with great devotion, as per their respective calendars. These regional New Year Festivals go by different names – Ugadi, Bihu, Gudi Padwa, Puthandu, Vishu, Cheiraoba, Navreh, Maha Vishuva Sankranti, Bestu Varas, Cheti Chand, Pohela Boishakh, Vaisakhi, Chaitra Pratipada and so on. People celebrate these festivals by following a number of ancient customs and rituals and of course sumptuous food. Prayers are offered at home and Temples for a happy, healthy and prosperous year ahead, for the family and community, and greetings exchanged.
Since a very long time, due to the influence of British rule in India there is always large scale partying on Gregorian New Year’s Eve followed by a holiday on 1st January for most workplaces and educational institutions. And since few decades, 1st January, the universal New Year Day is also being celebrated with a religious fervor. After partying hard on New Year’s Eve or enjoying New Year TV programs until midnight and exchanging greetings with all near and dear, the next day, the New Year Day, people are flocking at Temples to pray and seek blessings for a Good Year. Since about 20 years we are also going to some Temple on the New Year Day. Due to heavy rush at Temples in the city, we are at times preferring to go to some ancient Temple located on the outskirts of the city. This year we went to Sri Godha Sametha Mannaru Ranganayaka Swamy Temple at Edualabad, which is 32 Kms. from our house. It gives immense satisfaction by visiting a Temple on the first day of the year. Even our Prime Minister, Sri. Manmohan Singh began his New Year by offering early morning prayers at the Golden Temple, Amritsar! Despite inclement weather and black flag demonstration!
In the above poster you can see two popular Sanskrit prayers from the Upanishads seeking Universal Peace and Well-being and a picture of my youngest son Srinath when he was 3 years old.
Translated, the prayer at the top of the poster reads:
Lead us from the unreal to the real,
Lead us from darkness to light,
Lead us from death to immortality,
Let there be Peace, Peace, Peace.
Translated, the prayer at the bottom of the poster reads:
May the whole world be Happy
May all the people be Happy
May all living beings be Happy