Foreign guests in Sri Lanka should be aware, that most shops and banks are closed tomorrow and also on Monday and Tuesday, due to Sinhalese and Tamil New Year celebrations. Monday is the traditional Sri Lankan New Year’s Eve and Tuesday is the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year. Both consecutive days are public holidays in Sri Lanka every year. Depending on regions and family traditions, the festival can last for seven days altogether. During this time, the homes are whitewashed and decorated with lights. Young persons also use firecrackers. People start wearing new clothes. Part of Sri Lanka's New Year traditions is the playing of drums called Rabana by women. The festival marks the ending of an agricultural harvest period.
Usually Sri Lanka's New Year public holidays are celebrated on the 13th and 14th of April, Sinhalese New Year called Aluth Avurudda begins with dawns on the 14th of April this year. It is defined by the movement of sun from the Zodiac of Pisces into the Zodiac of Aries.
Almost the same New Year date is celebrated in many other South- and Southeastasian countries, too, in southern and eastern India, Nepal, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. In Thailand it is known as the popular Songkran festival. The Southeast-Asian New Year celebrations usually culminate one day later than in Sri Lanka. Mid of April is also the Sikh community's New Year Day, which is called Vaisaki, because on this day in 1699 Guru Gobind Singh established the Brotherhood of the Pure.
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