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Happy New Year!

Greetings from the southern beach town of Unawatuna in Sri Lanka! The festive season is upon the coun
Living My Legend
Happy New Year!
By Nico Atienza • Issue #4 • View online
Greetings from the southern beach town of Unawatuna in Sri Lanka! The festive season is upon the country as it is Sinhala and Tamil New Year. Apart from the days off work or school, the New Year is a big deal to the Sinhalese and Tamil populations that make up over 80% of the country.

I’m extremely appreciative of the long weekend as a result of the New Year holidays falling on a Friday which is why I made a beeline for the beach. As this was my first Sinhalese New Year in Sri Lanka after over a decade,  I took this opportunity to learn a little more about the customs of the season.
It all starts on New Year’s Eve and that fell on Friday, April 13, 2018. That day was a public and bank holiday with many businesses, retailers, and restaurants closed. Families will go into hyper cleaning mode to make sure everything from their homes, vehicles, and businesses are spotless in preparation for the new year.
New Year’s Day immediately follows the next day with a set of auspicious times determined by astrologers:
New Year’s day dawns at 8:13 am
Boiling milk in a clay pot at 10:40 am
Commencing of transactions and eating your first meal at 11:53 am
The boiling of the milk is a very important ritual in Sinhalese culture and is usually presided over by the lady of the household who will construct a hearth in the living room that faces a direction pre-determined by astrologers. 
The ceremony concludes once the milk (either coconut or milk) boils over.
Milk boiling ceremony
Milk boiling ceremony
Following the milk boiling ceremony, the household will then begin or continue preparing food for when the auspicious time to eat comes. A co-worker of mine remarked that if the tummy rumbles before the auspicious time to eat and you need a quick pick me up, stepping outside of the home for a quick bite will not bring misfortune and have the astrologers frown upon you.
L to R: kavum, khokis, cake
L to R: kavum, khokis, cake
When it is time to finally eat, the New Year’s goodies arrive and families sit down to have their first official meal of the new year. Some of the traditional Sinhalese food include kiribath (milk rice), konda kavum (oil cakes), khokis (fried rice flour and coconut milk), bananas, and cake!
The rest of New Year’s Day is spent visiting with family, friends, and neighbors with treats to wish them well in the coming year.
On another note, I’m extremely thankful for the men and women who worked this weekend away from their families to service visitors like myself. I hope you were handsomely compensated for your time!
The President of Sri Lanka personally sent a text message to millions of mobile subscribers 😅
The President of Sri Lanka personally sent a text message to millions of mobile subscribers 😅
Suba aluth auwrudhdhak vewa!

Your pal,
Nico
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Nico Atienza

A third culture kid discussing expat life in Sri Lanka, technology, travel, and food.

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