"Here comes mid-April... and welcome to the beginning of the traditional Indian New Year. It coincides with the first day of the Bikrami month of Vaisakha, which falls on the 13 of April every year, and on 14th April every 36 years.
The onset of Vaisakh is celebrated all over India under different names n rituals. N for Hindus following the Solar calendar, this day marks the beginning of the Solar New Year.
For the Budhists, a day of great importance, because on this day Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment under the Mahabodhi tree at Gaya.
- Bihu: Rongali/Bohaag Bihu in Assam. Time to drink rice beer, gift gomoshas (hand made towels) to the elders, dance, sing n feast to the beats of dhol n pepa (buffalo hornpipe).
- Naba Barsha: Ritual baths in near by rivers n pools. In Bihar, the festival of Vaisakh is celebrated in the honour of the Sun God is celebrated at a place cakker Surajpur-Baragon.
- Puthandu and Pooram Vishu: Down south, it is the time to celebrate the Tamil New year (puthandu) n the Kerala New Year- Pooram Vishu. Celebrations include fire works, displays called Vishu-Kani and wooden-chariot processions.
- Baisakhi: Moving north, this festival celebrated in great enthusiasm in Punjab and Himmachal Pradesh, where the rabi crop is ready for harvesting. In HP, it's also celebrated with the godess Jawalamukhi. On this day, melas(fairs) are held in most towns. Devotees visit gurdwaras and listen to kirtan (religious hyms) and religious discourses, following offerings of kara-prasad and partaking in langar (community meal). This festival being a harvest festival, it transcends religious divisions. It also has special meanings for Sikhs, as in 1699, Guru Govinda Raj, the tenth guru of the Sikhs, founded the Khalsa Panth (community of the pure) at Keshargh Sahib, near Anandpur."
So happy new year, to those who celebrate it!! :)
And a little extra on how festivals function in India. As most of the festivals follow the calendar, there is no one 'Hindu calendar' as such. The festivals celebrated can be divided according to states that use the solar calendar, and states that use the lunar calendar. For eg-
"The Tamil calendar is based on the Hindu solar calendar also used in Assam, Bengal, Kerala, Nepal, Manipur, Orissa and the Punjab. It in turn influenced the calendars of Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka and Thailand where the traditional new year falls around April 14 as well. The Hindu lunar calendar is conversely used in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra where the traditional year begins on the new moon preceding April 14." (wikipedia)
Modern day Gregorian calendar is an example of a Solar calendar, plotting days long sun cycles, while the Chinese n Islamic calendars, along with the Hindu Lunar Calendar are calendars that plot days alond the phases of the Moon.