Tamil New Year also called Puthandu heralds the beginning of the Dravidian New Year in Tamil Nadu . Also called as Varusha Pirappu in Tamil meaning the birth of a new year .It begins with the arrival of yet another year of peace prosperity, and thanksgiving to the Gods for a good year .The festival is celeberated on the first day of Chitirai which is the Tamil month .
Based on the solar cycle, the Tamil calendar has a sixty years cycle, with each year comprising twelve months. The Tamil New Year is celebrated after the vernal equinox and it generally falls on April 14 of the Gregorian Year.
As like any festival Tamil New year also means a variety of dishes cooked and enjoyed , most predominant among them the use of neem flowers in few dishes .
Neem and Tamil new year are inseparable .Most importantly the simplest dish is the Neem flower rasam ,or the vepampoo rasam in Tamil which is nothing but a delicious blend of rasam powder, spices, tamrind and a tbsp of toasted neem flowers used in tempering .Neem flowers are also used in tempering the manga pachadi .
The neem flower rasam which I made is a hack of sorts as I used a pulikaachal paste ( homemade ) to make quick rasam , as basic requirements of a vepampoo rasam have ingredients similar in puliyogare paste .This was also as a substitute for tamrind paste .You can use just plain tamrind paste and add other ingredients or use only the pulikaachal paste as base for rasam .