The Festival of Light: Nutan Varsh Abhinandan

[shareaholic app=”share_buttons” id=”25567871″] This lesson is the last one in our series on basic practices and traditions for the traditional New Year.

The common theme through the holiday season is offering gratitude for the abundance in our lives, and choosing light over darkness. Śrī Mahālakṣmī is the primary deity of this time, and each day we welcome and honor her in different forms.

As with all of these traditions, you are welcome to practice as much or as little as you are able. Remember that the outer ritual helps us to connect with the spirit of the holiday inside, so maintaining that connection and cultivating wisdom will yield greater fruit than just trying to do every ritual perfectly!

Celebrate the New Year

Nutan Varsh Abhinandan! Happy New Year! In Sanskrit, it’s Navavarshābhinandan – greetings for the new year! Another common form of greeting for this day is Nayā Sāl Mubārak, or just Sāl Mubārak, which is Hindi for Happy New Year!

Now, keep in mind that mostly the Gujarati, Marwari, and a few other Northern communities celebrate this as the New Year; other parts of India have their own New Year’s Day (for example, Maharashtrians celebrate it on Gudi Padva which was months ago). However, as the different traditions and communities become more globalized, many people throughout India also consider this a New Year, so it’s the most common. Our recommendation is to embrace all the different New Year’s Days and use them as an opportunity to experience a new beginning, set new intentions, and move forward with enthusiasm!

Because it’s a NEW year, the traditional practice is to keep that new spirit by doing everything new. People wear new clothes, set new intentions, use all new things (for example, the new curtains or a new pot or new phone). There’s a tradition that New Year sets the tone for the rest of the year, so everyone tries to be kind, generous, and happy throughout the day. They try to speak sweetly and perform all auspicious actions.

It is tradition to go have darshan and get blessings at a temple. Additionally, everyone visits the different homes of all the elders in the family, who usually have food and sweets ready for them. In this way, everyone gets to meet up with each other, since it’s often hard for elders to travel. Even for families that live far away, the phone rings all day with calls of “I just wanted to wish you a very Happy New Year! How is everyone doing?” Family members exchange gifts and give sweets and little envelopes of money to the children.

As spiritual practitioners, we can also embrace the energy of newness by setting new intentions for our sādhanā, our spiritual practices. We can commit to new habits. And we can remember that, like nature herself, we too can always renew ourselves at every moment, and face life with optimism, and fresh vision!

May you have a beautiful, joyful, and powerful New Year!