Sri Lanka is getting ready for its Sinhala New Year, which will take place this month.
Traditionally, the new year, which is celebrated by the majority Sinhalese ethnic group, pays tribute to the harvest and the spring season.
The festival has its origins in mythology and astrology, in the sun moving from House of Pieces to the House of Aries. Thanks is given to nature, symbolised by rain, as the climate brings bountiful harvests and natural floral displays.
The new year begins with a 'Nonagathe' period of religious devotion when people attend temples to be blessed by priests.
Food also plays a fundamental role, with a variety of healthy and flavourful Sinhalese delights to be enjoyed. Sinhalese families typically get together to eat an extravagant meal on New Year's Day.
Everyone wears new clothes on the day, which starts with the lighting of a fire, followed by an exchanging of gifts. A popular national game called Guddu (comparable to cricket or baseball) is played by kids and adults alike.
The day finishes with an oil ceremony, when a senior family member blesses children and young people with herbal oil.
The festival will take place on April 14, followed by an additional national holiday on April 15.
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