Puthandu also known as Varusha pirappu is Tamil New Year observed on the first day of Tamil month Chithirai (falls on 13th or 14th April according to the Gregorian Calendar).
It is celebrated by Tamilians all around the globe specially by Tamils in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in India, in Sri Lanka and by the Tamil population in Malaysia, Singapore, Réunion and Mauritius.
On this day, Tamil people greet each other by saying “Puthandu Vazthukal” (புத்தாண்டு வாழ்த்துகள்) or “Iniya Tamizh Puthandu Nalvaazhthukkal” (இனிய தமிழ் புத்தாண்டு நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள்).
The day coincides with the Hindu New Year according Solar Calendar which is celebrated as Bihu in Assam, Vaisakhi in Punjab, Pana Sankranti in Orissa and Naba Barsha in West Bengal.
Tamilians celebrate this day in a big way by merrymaking and feasting. The day is marked with a feast in Tamil homes and entrances to the houses are decorated elaborately with kolams and they place a lamp called kuthuvillakku at the center of the Kolam believing that that it would dispel darkness. People also visit to temples on this day to seek divine blessings for the coming year.
Highlight of this festival day is a big Car Festival held at Tiruvadamarudur near Kumbakonam. Apart from that, ‘Chitthirai Festival’ is also organized at several places in the month of Chitthirai to celebrate the marriage of Goddess Meenakshi to Lord Sundareswarar.