Today is the Sinhala and Tamil New Year or “Avurudhu” as celebrated by the Sinhalese and “Puthandu” as celebrated by Tamils throughout Sri Lanka. You probably didn’t know that and care much less, but in my 65,610 km² of the world, it is a rather big deal and considered to be a time for family, tradition and food. Except for the food, I find the whole rigmarole extremely tedious and am only comforted at the thought of a possible new stamp issue. This year again however, there seems to be no new year themed stamp forthcoming.
If the Chinese New Year can instigate its own global philatelic revolution, you have to wonder why the Sri Lankan one can’t? Admittedly, we are neither a ginormous country nor do we have a cool animal zodiac forming part of the overall schtick, but our patronising traditions (no, I will NOT kneel to worship my elders thank you very much) and eyerollworthy games (telling me to wolf down a sugar bun in the fastest possible time is just WAY too triggering) should be interesting enough to the rest of the world. Don’t you think?
Anyway, I thought I’d take a gander down our proud nation’s philatelic history to see what we’ve managed to produce on the Avurudhu theme so far:
Four stamps were issued to commemorate Avurudhu in 1986 which is also the first ever appearance of this theme. The stamps feature things like lamp lighting, traditional food, communal drumming and religious activities. Ugh. Considering that this is supposed to be the Sinhala AND Tamil New Year it would have been nice to see some wider racial representation.
Likely spurred on by their previous year’s success, Sri Lanka issued another two stamps on the topic of Avurudhu in 1987. At least this time they have one (seemingly) Tamil wench on the first stamp so racial balance is restored but why does it feel like only women celebrate this time of year? Even the 1986 stamps depicted a preponderance of females. I think it’s time Sri Lankan men stood up for their rights here. Equal representation on postage stamps yo.
Coming more than 20 years after the last one, this 2012 stamp set is probably the most unique out of the lot due to the placement of the four individual stamps. It seems to cover most of the core traditions and the astrological “handahana” (horoscope) square in the middle is a nice touch.
However, this stamp is titled “Sinhala – Hindu” New Year which is utterly ridiculous. Last time I checked, Sinhalese was a race and Hinduism was a religion. Thus the correct notation should have been Sinhalese and Tamil New Year which the ’86 and ’87 stamps at least got right.
Anyway, that seems to be it. The local new year has been featured on stamps a grand total of THREE times. Arguably, the occasion could be made FAR more interesting if we issued a series of stamps featuring Avurudhu games for example. Or a series on the unique delicacies eaten especially at this time of the year. Unfortunately, nobody at the Philatelic Bureau seems to care. Maybe I will design my own. Just you wait.