Tamil New Year (also known as Puthandu) is celebrated on or about April 14th every year. Tamil New Year is the first day for a new beginning with the hope that the new year will bring them more opportunities for growth and happiness. Initially, Tamil New Year was celebrated by Hindus in Sri Lanka and India. However, Tamils are located across the globe, so other countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, United Kingdom also celebrate. During this celebration, Tamils go to temple; they sing devotional songs, pray, and participate in music and dance. In addition, even though Tamil New Year is a religious celebration, oftentimes families spend more time together. Although Tamil New Year is an important celebration, for many people it contributes to sensory overload. Therefore, celebrating a sensory-friendly Tamil New Year will help include more people in the celebration.
Keep reading to learn some tips to make Tamil New Year sensory-friendly.
What can temple organizations do to make Tamil New Year Sensory-Friendly?
Offer a sensory-friendly prayer environment
Since most temples host a special prayer at 12:00 AM on April 14th, many people go to the temple with their families to pray at that time. Oftentimes, on this day, the prayer hall will be decorated with bright colours and lights. Having a space that is less sensory-rich to offer a reprieve from the colour and lights is helpful.
In addition, there is also be traditional clarinet and drums musicians playing during prayer. Moreover, devotional songs are also sung. Noise can contribute to sensory overload, even beautiful singing. Provide noise-cancelling earmuffs and a quiet space to help.
Have a chill-zone
It can be challenging for temple organizations to make every aspect of the prayer hall sensory-friendly. For example, lighting oil lamps is key during prayers. Therefore, avoiding this completely can be difficult. As a solution, create a chill-zone, that can also be less sensory-rich and a quiet space. Furthermore, it helps people who feel stressed, anxious or overwhelmed by the celebrations to take a break when needed. Some features to consider including in the chill-zones are:
- Dim lights
- No music or calm music
- Comfortable seating
- Sensory-friendly toys such as fidgets, weighted lap pads
- Yoga mats
- Food and water
Staff training is always helpful to accommodate people with different needs. Identify trained staff with a special outfit or piece of clothing. Let devotees know that trained staff are there to help. Trained staff can also do things like offer water and even sensory-friendly toys in the prayer hall.
Inform devotees about the changes
It is important to let devotees know about the changes that have been made. Include a sign for the chill zone, with expectations for the room, for example. Share information about the sensory-friendly changes that have been made at the start of prayer. Have printed information that share about what sensory-friendly changes have been made and why they are being made.
Provide accessible toilets
Make sure toilets are accessible. Some of the things to keep in mind are:
- Good lighting, but avoid fluorescent lights
- Install grab bars
- Ensure wheelchair accessibility
- Provide hand towel and turn off or put a sign over noisy hand dryers
What can you do to make your Tamil New Year Sensory-Friendly?
Bring food and beverages with you
No one wants to be hungry during a celebration! Remind yourself of all the things you will be doing on Tamil New Year’s Day. This will help you prepare food in advance. If it is a shorter day, it is best to eat at home and bring small snacks with you. If you have a long day, it is also good to pack your meals with you. Don’t forget your water to keep hydrated!
Visit the temple during a less busy time
As mentioned, a lot of devotees go to the temple at 12:00AM. Consider avoiding going to the temple at this time because of the number of people. It can bw overwhelming. Therefore, choose a less busy time, if possible. If you are not sure which time is less busy, call the temple and ask them for their recommendations.
Find a quiet place to watch fireworks
Fireworks are part of many celebrations, especially Tamil New Year! However, watching fireworks often takes place in a crowded place with lots of people. And fireworks are noisy and bright. They are sensory-rich and contribute to sensory overload. Consider watching the fireworks from a distance where the noise and crowd is reduced. Read about sensory-friendly fireworks for more solutions.
Carry sensory-friendly tools
What makes your feel comfortable is different from other people. Sensory toys and tools can help. Bring along noise-cancelling ear muffs, fidgets, and a weighted lap pad.
Invite fewer guests
Going to other people’s homes can be uncomfortable for many people with sensory sensitivity or who experience sensory overload. Therefore, consider inviting a small number of friends and families to your home, instead. Let guests know if you will be making changes like having a more subdued celebration, offering a quite space in your home, or other changes.
In conclusion, celebrations are important to enjoy! However, traditional ways of celebrating can be sensory-rich and overwhelming for some people. By using and implementing these sensory-friendly strategies, you include more people.
Sensory Friendly Solutions wishes you a happy Tamil New Year!
Are you interested in gaining more knowledge on ways to adapt celebrations to be more sensory-friendly? Check out:
- How to Make Your Holi Celebration Sensory-Friendly
- 5 Ways to Make Your Temple Visits Sensory-Friendly
- Create a Sensory-Friendly Hindu Wedding
- Simple Strategies for a Sensory-Friendly Diwali Celebration
- 6 Ways To Have a Sensory-Friendly Fireworks Show for Your Child
- Strategies for a Sensory-Friendly Ganesh Chaturthi
- Five Ways to Make Your Onam Celebration Sensory-Friendly
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