Friday, April 14, 2017

Sri Lankan Cultural New Year: The In-Between Time

The Sri Lankan cultural new year falls on the 13th or 14th of April, with the exact day depending on the new moon and at an auspicious time that is determined by astrologers.  This year, it starts on April 14.  Unlike the calendar new year, which starts immediately after the old year ends, there is a period of time (usually several hours) between the end of the old year and the beginning of the new year.  This in-between time is called "nonagathe" (sometimes spelled "nonegathe", although there is only one way to  spell it when it is written in Sinhalese).  During this in-between time, one is not supposed to engage in any type of work!  It is time devoted to religious activities and getting together with family and friends.  The cultural new year is a public holiday in Sri Lanka and most schools are closed during this time; many people take vacation time off, as well.  So, it is easy to spend the in-between time doing things other than work.

There are lots of rituals and special food associated with the new year activities, which are hard to duplicate when one is living in another country!  For my first new year spent in the States, I prepared the traditional milk rice and had a pot luck dinner to which I invited my professors, university staff I had made friends with, other friends, and my roommates, of course.  Fast forward 40+ years, and my cultural new year is just another regular day.  Almost.  One of the rituals is to bathe for the old year that is passing (a symbolic cleansing, I suppose) and I was reminded of it when I showered this morning.  Another ritual I will be able to do this year is make the milkrice, tomorrow morning, as I had arranged to work from home, tomorrow.

Today, I went to get my blood tests done in the morning.  They drew about five or six vials of blood this time, for the various tests!  Afterwards, even though it was the in-between time when one is not supposed to work, I went to the office for a few hours.  My supervisor was very happy to see me, as I had told her I wasn't sure if I'd come in or take the whole day off.  She also paid me a compliment on the outfit I was wearing (one of the skirts that still fit and a short sleeved top I had knitted several years ago).

Later in the afternoon, I went for my appointment with the Physician Assistant.  She was pleased with my blood pressure and sugar monitoring reports; I am to continue the medications at the current dosage.  I discussed the antibiotics and the diuretic prescribed by the radiation oncologist with her and she said to be sure to check my blood pressure as those medications can cause the pressure to go up. 

When I came home, there were two messages on my answering machine.  One was from my supervisor with a status update on a project I had been working on; I will call her back tomorrow, as she had already left the office by the time I came home.  The other was from my oncologist's office.  I had an appointment for tomorrow morning, but they called to say that it had to be cancelled and rescheduled and could I call them back to confirm.  Again, they were closed by the time I came home, so I'll call them tomorrow.  I need to also call the pharmacy, tomorrow, because I haven't received my antibiotics yet and I want to find out the status of that!

Daughter went to her office, today, saying she felt a little better and it was less stressful to go to work than stay at home and fret about the roaches!  

One of my friends called me in the evening and I had a nice chat with her.  Later, I watered the back garden.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Daughter is feeling a little better today
- Friendly staff at the lab where I went for my blood tests
- The doctor's appointment went well
- Safe commutes to the clinics and the office and back
- Discovering a new radio station that plays the "oldies" I like!

Thursday's To Do List:
- Lab test in the morning - DONE
- Go to the office afterwards - DONE
- Dr's appt. in the afternoon - DONE
- Water the back garden - DONE
- More paperwork - DONE
- Put away laundry - DONE
- Put away washed dishes - DONE

Friday's To Do List:
- Call supervisor
- Call the oncology clinic
- Call the pharmacy
- Work from home
- More paperwork
- Tidy the house a bit

How was your Thursday?  What have you planned for Friday?


  1. I meant to comment yesterday but completely forgot, anyway, I'm glad your daughter has got out of the house today, even if just for work, if it saves her getting stressed.
    I'm often amazed at the amount of blood they take from you for testing. As long as they leave some behind 😉 and they do keep a close check on you which is a good thing.
    Thank you for sharing the details of the cultural new year. Do you mind me asking what the milk rice is? X

    1. Jules, milk rice is just that - rice cooked with milk! It is a lot like rice pudding, but not sweet. One boils the rice with water, as usual, but towards the end of the cooking, one adds milk. It is traditionally cooked with coconut milk, but regular (cow's) milk can be used, too. I haven't tried any of the other milks that are available these days, such as almond milk, but I suppose they would work as a substitute, too. The resulting milk rice is not of a fluffy consistency. It is more like a thick porridge. It can be eaten with curry, sambols (which are spicy relishes) or with juggery (which is a type of palm sugar; one can substitute brown sugar or white sugar, too).

    2. I did a quick search and here is a link to the post where I posted a picture of a typical new year's breakfast - my friend prepared and sent it to me on Jan. 1st, for the regular calendar new year, but it is very similar to what would be prepared for the cultural new year, too. The two white squares on the front of the plate (at around the 6 o'clock position) are pieces of milk rice. She is able to get the firm, almost solid texture most people like. Mine tends to be more pudding-like! I think I might be using more milk, but it's the texture I prefer!

    3. And, of course, I forget to post the link! Mind like a sieve, these days!

  2. I'm late commenting on blogs and forgive me but I'm only going to comment on your latest post :) I'm glad you had bloodwork done, hopefully it gives them a clue as to why you're still having to fight an inflammation.

    How frustrating that it's taking so long to get the proper antibiotic and that your own doctor, who has all your medical history, was so careless in prescribing something that you should NOT be taking! You'd think it's the first thing they do when they write prescriptions! I have so little confidence in medical professionals. At least the physician assistant seems to be more on the ball.

    My son seems to have contacted whatever bug your daughter has (hopefully she feels better today), but at least there is no school today so he can rest. We skipped going clothes shopping for him.

    Roaches are gross, aren't they? We have palmetto bugs here. Yuck. I don't use pest control on a regular basis (just wasp and ant spray here and there) so we just kill them when we see them. Thankfully it's not all that often. But when I was growing up we lived in the projects and at night, when you went to use the bathroom, it would be covered in hundreds of those smaller Asian roaches. Our apartment building had a trash chute from apartment to apartment and the management never cleaned it so they would climb in through there and also the drains. So disgusting. My mom would set off "bug bombs" while she was at work and us at school but they kept coming back. Finally she and my stepdad were able to save money for a downpayment on a house and we never had a bug in that house. I hope the apartment building treatment got all of them!

    Lastly, thanks for sharing details about the Sri Lankan new year! Happy New Year, Bless, I hope it's a happy and healthy one for you!

    1. No need to apologize, Nathalie. I am late on commenting, too!

      I suppose the dr. just thought of the most obvious antibiotic that wasn't actually penicillin that he forgot (or didn't realize) it was a 2nd generation penicillin product. I don't know, human error, I suppose, but I am glad the pharmacist alerted me. I am currently on hold with the pharmacy, checking on the status of my replacement antibiotic.

      Yes, palmetto bugs are a type of roach! We have them in Sri Lanka, too - big, brown, flying roaches! I was telling my daughter about them and telling her to be glad that she didn't have to deal with them; she was not amused! Her supervisor at work is from Australia and she had told daughter about the big roaches in Australia. Poor daughter is not getting a lot of sympathy from those of us who have dealt with the larger roaches!

      Thank you for the new year wishes! I rather like this 2nd opportunity for a new start to my year! Hope you have a lovely weekend, Nathalie.

  3. Happy New Year Bless, may it be full of love and blessings for you, DD and your family. I like the idea of a few hours in between an old and new year and the idea of reflecting on things while preparing for new ones. Sometimes life seems to be on fast forward with us lurching from one thing to the next and the tradition of pausing for a while sounds ideal.

    Glad to hear DD is feeling better and that your BP and sugars were fine. xx

    1. Thank you, Suzanne. I think we need to intentionally build in pauses in our lives these days. Used to be that holidays and vacations were those pauses. But, it seems these days, one is expected to check ones work emails even when one goes on vacation! So, personal time and time to reflect become something precious which need to be guarded.

      Hope you have a lovely weekend as you celebrate Easter.

  4. It's very interesting to read about your culture, Bless. Thank you for sharing. Hope all your tests come back with good results!


    1. Thank you, Jane. Hope all is well with you and your family. Have a lovely weekend.

  5. I know it must be difficult to honor some traditions in a different country. Glad you had a nice day Thursday! How do you make rice milk? It sounds interesting

    1. Anne, milk rice is basically, rice cooked with milk. One boils the rice as for regular rice, with water, and then, add milk towards the end and boil some more, until it becomes like rice pudding. The consistency is similar to a very thick porridge that can be cut and will hold its shape, although I tend to make mine a softer consistency. Traditionally, it is made with coconut milk, but I've made it with regular (cow's) milk. You might be able to make it with your kefir, too. The milk rice itself is not sweet; one may eat it as a savory dish with curry, or as a sweet dish with juggary (palm sugar), or regular sugar (either brown or white; I prefer brown sugar as it tastes a little bit like juggary, but my daughter prefers white sugar). Here is a link to a previous post with a picture of a typical new year's breakfast, showing 2 pieces of milk rice:

  6. Great buy on the butter! How do you ensure it tastes fresh after freezing for long periods of time? Even when I freeze certain items in ziplock bags they seem to take on a "freezer" taste to me ... where they absorb other freezer odors ... much the way baking soda does. Maybe I should double bag?

    1. Carolyn, I really don't detect any taste change in the butter I freeze. I just put the boxes in the shelves on the freezer door, without any additional bagging. I do have a box of baking soda in the freezer, but I can't remember when I last changed it! It's probably time to do so in the next few days! Thanks for reminding me to do it!

  7. It was interesting to read about Sri Lankan new year. I had no idea that it even existed! Even if you are unable to observe it in the traditional way now, it is nice that you remember it and make some concessions to the occasion.

    For me, in Japan, a hard day was Good Friday, as it was just a normal working day. Whether or not I fast for Lent, I always try to keep Good Friday holy - eating simply, no meat or alcohol, attend church and refrain from any form of celebration or social gathering. Well, of course I had no choice about working, so I couldn't go to church but I also remember that one year there was a departmental work dinner that I had to go to. I went along out of duty and politely refused all the various offers of beer or sake which are traditionally poured out by guests for one another, explaining 100 times why, even though they had no idea what I was talking about. Made no sense to them and at some point there was a toast which I "had" to take part in. I think I took the tiniest sip ... but I was pretty fed up that I had to compromise on every single aspect of abstinence that day. The whole basis of my job was cultural exchange - yet sometimes it seemed to be all in one direction! Oh well :o)

    Wow - this comment is nearly as long as the original post! Sorry!

    1. Glad you enjoyed reading about the Sri Lankan new year.

      No need to apologize for the length of the comment! I enjoyed reading about your experiences. I'm sorry you had no choice other than to compromise on how you planned to observe that particular Good Friday. :( Good Friday is a regular working day, here, in the U.S., too, and schools are open. The only religious holiday is Christmas Day. As for toasting, I don't drink any alcohol; I'll toast with water or juice! :D

    2. Didn't realise that Good Friday was not a holiday in America. I remember reading that Christmas Day only became an official holiday there relatively recently. Of course, in Japan that is also a working day. Ironically, the emperor's birthday was 23rd Dec and a holiday ... which was a bit galling! Why could he not have been born two days later!

    3. Ha, ha, very inconsiderate of him! :D


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