“Ugadi” and “Gudi Padwa” – Hindu Lunar New Year
” Ugadi ” and “Gudi Padwa” – Hindu Lunar New Year
Ugadi is an important festival for people from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It is the New Year according to the Hindu calendar. The first month of the year is called Chaitra and Ugadi is the first day of Chaitra. The festival is called Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra. Ugadi is also known as ‘Chaitra Suddha Padhyami’. The Lunar New Year’s Day (Ugadi) varies every year as it begins on the first New Moon after the Spring Equinox, in 2019 it falls on 6th April
The name Ugadi/Yugadi originated from the Sanskrit words; ‘Yuga’(age) and ‘Adi’(starting). Ugadi celebrates the arrival of the spring season and signifies prosperity. As spring brings in new leaves, new buds, bright sunlight and nature seem to awaken from its long winter slumber, so does the festival signify the birth of a new era.
According to Hindu mythology, the creator of the world, Lord Brahma, started his creation on this day. Thus, Lord Brahma, is worshipped on this day along with Lord Vishnu, who is the creator of ‘Yugas’(Another name of Lord Vishnu is ‘Yugaadikrit’).
Before the beginning of Chaitra, people clean and whitewash their homes and decorate temples as well as the deity rooms in their homes with jasmine flowers and mango leaves.
To start the celebrations, the entire household wakes up before dawn and take a head bath after massaging the whole body with sesame oil and wear new, traditional clothes. The idols of gods and goddesses within the house are then bathed in oil too, after which prayers and offerings of neem flowers, mango and tamarind are given up. The elderly women in the family then apply oil and vermilion to the forehead of the younger members following which all members of the family watch their reflection in a vessel of molten ghee.
The entire family worships the Panchanga or the new Hindu almanac which is read for the first time. It is believed that special blessings are bestowed on those who read and listen to the Panchanga. The temple priest or whosoever is reading the Panchanga needs to be given gifts of thanks in the form of new clothes.
The “Indra Dhwaja”, which is meant to bring in the rain, Is worshipped which is also a feature of Gudi Padwa, Maharashtra’s New Year. Devotees decorate their front door with red earth and a string of mango and neem leaves. The entrance is also decorated with Rangoli in white chalk although coloured powder can also be used to fill the outlined figure.
There is a special type of food item that is prepared for this occasion and is called the “Bevu Bella” in Karnataka and “Ugadi Pachadi” which has five tastes -the preparation is a mix of Neem flowers or buds, jaggery, pepper, salt, tamarind juice and un-ripened mango that symbolizes the mixture of happy, sad, infuriating, fearful, disgusting and surprising events in life.
Jaggery(sweet), symbol for happiness; Tamarind(sour), symbol for challenges; Neem flowers(bitter), symbolising the difficulties of life; Raw mango(tangy), symbolising surprises and new challenges that crop up in life; chillis(spicy), symbolises anger; salt(salty)symbolises interesting things in life.
Special traditional dishes are prepared on this auspicious day as an offering (Neivedyam) to the Lord before it is served to the others. Some of the popular dishes are ‘Pulihora’(a tangy, spicy rice dish), ‘Bobbatlu’(Sweet, Bengal gram-coconut filled dumpling), Sweet Pongal, Mango Pachdi, Moong dal Payasam, Kodhimbir vada etc. Meals are first offered to the gods before the family eats them. The rest of the day is spent in visiting temples, offering prayers and celebrating with family and friends.