South and Southeast Asian solar New Year
As most countries and cultures of South and Southeast Asia lie within the Indian cultural sphere, the development of their traditional calendars have been strongly influenced by some form of the Hindu calendar. As in many other calendars, the New Year was based on the northern hemisphere vernal equinox (the beginning of spring). However, the Hindu calendar year was based on the sidereal year (i.e. the movement of the sun relative to the stars), while the Western Gregorian calendar is based on the tropical year (the cycle of seasons).
In ancient times, the sun's entry into Aries coincided with the equinox. However, due to the earth's axial precession, the sidereal year is slightly longer than the tropical year, causing the dates to gradually drift apart. Today, the sun's entry into Aries occurs around 18 April, according to astronomical definitions. Some traditional calendars are still marked by the sun's actual movements while others have since been fixed to the Gregorian calendar.
The specific New Year observances include:
- In South Asia:
- In India:
- Bisket Jatra in Bhaktapur, Dhapasi and Tokha in Nepal
- Maithili New Year in the Mithila region of India and Nepal
- Pahela Baishakh or Bengali New Year in Bangladesh, and West Bengal and Tripura in India
- Puthandu or Tamil New Year in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in India, as well as Sri Lanka and elsewhere
- Sinhalese New Year in Sri Lanka
- Vaisakhi or Punjabi New Year, in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan
- In Southeast Asia:
- In East Asia:
- Water-Sprinkling Festival, celebrated by the Dai people in Sipsongpanna in Yunnan, China