Sri Lankan New Year is a joyful festival celebrated to ensure a good harvest and to bring prosperity and happiness to the country. Sinhala Buddhists call it Aluth Avurudu, while Tamil Hindus name it Puthandu. The date of Sinhala & Tamil New Year is determined by astrologists. Sinhala Avurudu/Tamil Puththandu occurs when the Sun moves from Meena Rashiya to Mesha Rashiya finishing a 12-month cycle. The holiday always falls between April 12th and 15th.
Since the majority of the people on these lands were farmers, beginning a new cycle after the major harvest called "Maha" made perfect sense. It is time to celebrate and demonstrate appreciation to the gods. Rituals include bathing on the last day of the old year and observing the moon during the last night before the new year begins. In temples, drums beat (Hewisi) can be heard at all times. People flock to temples to receive blessings from the monks. Children offer betel to parents and elders as a sign of gratitude and to receive blessings in return. On this day, you can taste some traditional local pastries.
The most interesting and entertaining part of the festival is traditional games and races played on this day by local youth. Street parties, cart races, beauty contests, pole climbing competitions, and much more can be witnessed in Colombo and other big cities of Sri Lanka.