By D. C. Ranatunga
The Bak Maha - the month of April is the month of
plenty. Described as the pala bara bak maase, the trees are full
of fruits this month. Harvesting is over and the atuva (barn) is
full with the new stock of paddy. Being the month of the aluth avurudda,
people are busy getting ready for the big occasion. Avurudu comes
but once a year.
a typical village home, there are elaborate preparations for the
aluth avuruddda. The house is given a thorough clean up. Walls get
a new coat of paint, floors are washed and cleaned. The garden is
cleared of weeds. The kitchen area is a hive of activity.
start pounding the rice to prepare the flour to make traditional
sweetmeats. A special lipa is made ready for frying operation. Kevum
take top priority. There is the atiraha, the flat type. But the
demand is for konda kevum- the ones with the konde. Mung kevum is
made from green gram. The list of sweetmeats is a pretty long one
- kokis, aasmi, aluva, aggala, veli thalapa, peni valalu and more.
is also shopping time. New clothes are a must for everyone in the
family and the auspicious colours are in demand. Prior to the era
of the ready-mades, the mother would stitch the new dresses for
is one season when the whole country decides to follow the auspicious
times set by the astrologers. Those who strictly observe such customs
will look at the moon for the last time for the old year and wait
for the auspicious day to take a look again.
head bath is also avoided after a particular day before the avurudda.
Many will not eat, drink or even read during the nonagathe- the
transition period (also known as sankranthiya) between the old and
the new year which generally lasts for about twelve hours. (This
year the nonagathe is from 6.15 p.m. on April 13 until 7.03 a.m
the following morning.) The period is set apart for meritorious
deeds - that's why it's also known as punya kalaya. The whole family
would visit the temple to offer flowers and pay homage to the Buddha.
the hearth and preparing the first meal is the first major activity
for the new year. The lady of the house, clad in light green will
light the hearth at 5.23 a.m. on the 14th and boil a pot of milk
using a new clay pot, discarding the old one. She will then prepare
kiribath to be partaken at the auspicious time for the first meal.
alleema precedes ganu denu and the first meal. It's the farmer who
follows the custom of starting work at the auspicious time. Having
put his tools aside after finishing work for the old year, he would
pull out a mammoty and symbolically begin work at the auspicious
hour - 6.48 a.m. on the 14th facing the north clad in gold coloured
custom has now spread and everyone will indulge in some activity.
Children are encouraged to read a book and write a sentence or two.
Ganu denu as the word indicates, is to 'give and take'. Monetary
transactions are done among the elders, choosing a "lucky"
person to exchange money with. For the young, it's only ganu when,
in addition to gifts, they would get cash from the elders. The non-earners
are not expected to give but only take.
is the season for giving. Apart from new clothes and gifts to family
members, things are shared with neighbours. After the customs are
observed in the home, avurudu sweetmeats are sent to the neighbours
who would also reciprocate.
brings the family together. Children get back home to spend the
avurudu. Avurudu is festive time. The rabana is taken out, warmed
up and made ready to be played accompanied by the reciting of raban
kavi. Onchili padeema is yet another popular activity with the young
women. Young and old alike join in pancha dameema.
is the time when traditional games are revived. Fun and games begin
after the avurudu customs are observed when the whole village would
gather to participate in numerous games usually forgotten during
the rest of the year.