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What's In A New Year?

Singapore is blessed with many cultures and their respective festivals that we all collectively enjoy. Yet, many of us are not quite sure why a certain festival is celebrated, what are its philosophical underpinnings and the true significance of certain rituals.

The Tamils in Singapore observed their Tamil New Year on 14 April 2019. On 31 March 2019, the Centre for Singapore Tamil Culture (CSTC) held a discussion programme titled: What’s In A New Year? In this programme, eminent scholars discussed not only the Tamil New Year but also several other New Years celebrated by different cultures in Singapore.

The event was attended by 150 people from different cultures, including the Chinese, Malays and Indians.


“In all traditions that celebrate the new year, it marks the restarting of the calendar. However, traditional calendars vary: some follow the solar cycle; some follow a lunar cycle; others combine the two cycles together. The Christian calendar, for example, combines a lunar Easter with a solar Christmas.”

Chinese New Year - Dr Vivian Wee


When Chinese New Year comes around, one topic of public discussion is about the animal year it will be. Counting time in numbers is cumulative: the numbers increase with the passage of time. But the reckoning of time in non-numbers – in this case, animals – is non-cumulative. Instead, time is conceived as cyclical, going around in cycles of 12 years.


The Muslim New Year in a Malay Context - Dr Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib

Muslims do not generally observe the new year in a huge way. Hence, new year celebration has never been a key feature of Muslim communal observances, including in the Malay world. In fact, there is a glaring absence of grand celebrations for the Muslim new year.


The (Tamil) Solar New Year - Dr. Sureshkumar Muthukumaran (Yale-NUS)

The Tamil-speaking peoples of South India and Sri Lanka use the solar method to compute the New Year and the harvest festival of Poṅkal. Otherwise, most other festivals celebrated by Tamil speakers are determined by the lunar and nākṣatra systems. The “Tamil” New Year is a bit of a misnomer, and it has never been named as such in pre-modern sources.

Center for Singapore Tamil Culture Launch

Mr Arun Mahizhnan, Director,

Center for Singapore Tamil Culture

Today is a historical day for all of Singapore, especially for Tamils. Though Tamils are known to have arrived, occupied and even settled in this region centuries ago...

Tamil Digital Heritage Launch

I am very pleased to join all of you this morning for the launch of the Tamil Digital Heritage Project...


Mr K T M Iqbal,


We all wish that our writings are read by many. And we wish it will spread across the world. This Digital Heritage Project makes it possible...


I am going to share the beliefs I derived from my own experiences. We all know that gadgets like ‘kindle’, used to read e-books, are becoming more popular these days...


This is a very happy day for all of us. Today we are embarking on an unprecedented and, to some extent, uncharted journey...


Mr Naa Aandeappan, Chairman, Association of Singapore Tamil Writers

Tamil Poet Bharathy dreamt of ‘honey-like’ Tamil Language to spread all over the world. Now his dream has come true as Tamils are living in almost every country...

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