|Saturday, February 1, 2003||
IN Japan, New Year celebrations last for three days, starting January 1. Everyone gets new clothes and little work is done. Buddhist temples ring out the old year by letting passersby ring a huge bell once until it has been rung 108 times, that is, one time for each kind of evil in the world. On New Year’s Day, it is traditional to make a pilgrimage to a Shinto shrine or a Buddhist temple
In Iran, the New Year falls on March 20 or 21 and is called Nouruz, which means new day or new life. On the Wednesday before New Year’s Day, people jump over fires to purify themselves. It is bad luck to stay indoors on the 13th day and people attend picnics and watch male dancers juggle pins and chant to drum beats. Sprouted wheat and lentils are thrown into an ocean or lake.
In Austria, New Year’s
Eve is called Sylvesterabend or the Eve of Saint Sylvester. Legend has
it that Saint Sylvester killed an evil monster dragon called the
Leviathan in 1000 AD, on what was widely predicted to be Judgment Day
when Leviathan was supposed to rise, fight the Behemoth and be killed.
He did rise and was vanquished. Leviathan was a serpent-dragon so
large that its multicoloured coils encircled the earth. Confetti,
streamers, and champagne are part of the New Year’s Eve. Evil
spirits of the old year are chased away by the firing of mortars
called boller. Midnight mass is attended and trumpets are blown from
church towers at midnight. People exchange kisses. There are fireworks
in larger cities.
Hindus in the different
parts of the country celebrate New Year at different times of the year.
In Tamil Nadu, Vishu, the spring festival on April 14 marks the
beginning of the new year. The springtime festival of Baisakhi
celebrates the beginning of a new year in Punjab. In Maharastra, the
festival of Gudi Padva in the month of March or April and in Andhra
Pradesh the festival of Ugadi on the same day mark the first day of the
new year. The Kashmiri New Year begins with the festival of Navreh in
the spring. The Bengalis of West Bengal celebrate the Naba Barsha on the
April 13, while those from Bangladesh call it the Poila.