Puthandu marks the Tamil New Year’s Day and is celebrated in the beginning of Chithirai - the first month in the Tamil Calendar year. The auspicious occasion of Puthandu is also popularly known as Varusha Pirappu or the birth of New Year and falls on 13th or 14th April according to the Gregorian Calendar. Many people in Tamil Nadu also celebrate Puthandu as the day when Lord Brahma - Hindu God of Creation started creation. People of Tamil Nadu celebrate Varusha Pirappu in a big way by merrymaking and feasting.
People of Tamil Nadu celebrate Puthandu Pirappu by following specific traditions and rituals. Early in the morning, womenfolk adorn the entrance of their house with colorful Kolam patterns. Centre of the Kolam is decorated with a lamp called kuthuvillakku in a belief that it would dispel darkness. It is also customary for people in Tamil Nadu to pay visit to temple and invoke divine blessings for the coming year.
A popular custom of Puthandu is 'kanni' which means the auspicious sight. Following the ritual, people start the Puthandu day by watching auspicious things like gold and silver jewellery, betel leaves, nuts, fruits and vegetables, flowers, raw rice and coconuts. This is done under the belief that a good start to New Year will ensure prosperity and happiness in the coming year. A bath and a visit to the temple usually follow Kanni. After this people read the Panchangam (almanac).
To mark the occasion of Tamil New Year people wear new clothes and relish best of festive food including 'Maanga Pachadi', a sweet, sour and bitter dish made of raw mangoes, jaggery and neem flowers to signify different aspects of life. Many even get their houses painted for the occasion. People also visit friends and dear ones to exchange greetings for New Year - “Puthandu Vazthukal”. Youngsters are particularly excited about Puthandu as they receive small gifts from all their elders.
Highlight of the day is a big Car Festival held at Tiruvadamarudur near Kumbakonam. Puthandu Festivals are also held at Tiruchirapalli and Kanchipuram besides many other places. At several places ‘Chitthirai Festival’ is also organized in the month of Chitthirai to celebrate the marriage of Goddess Meenakshi to Lord Sundareswarar.