Ugadi (Gudi Padwa): a Hindu Festival to Celebrate New Year
Ugadi is a festival celebrated to symbolise the beginning of a new era, it also marks the traditional New Year for Hindus across different parts of India. Ugadi is derived from Sanskrit where “Yuga” means age/era and “Adi” means beginning. It is celebrated on Shukla paksha (bright fortnight) of the first month Chaitra of the Hindu calendar that usually falls in March or April every year.
Ugadi also called Chandramana Yugadi in Karnataka, Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra. In Manipur, it is celebrated as Sajibu Nongma Panba Cheiraoba.
Panchangam is the most essential aspect and tradition followed at this festival. Panchangam also known as Nakshatra Patri is an almanac that gives the important astrological configurations with auspicious tithi (date and time) and other useful religious information for the coming year.
Significance of Ugadi
According to Hindu Sculpture and astrological calculations, it is considered that Lord Krishna’s Niryaana was commenced on Shuklapaksha of Chaitra maasam (month). This day also marks the beginning of the Kaliyuga.
Regional Celebrations and Traditions
Maharastra: This festival is celebrated as Gudipadwa. On this day, a special Gudhi flag is made of silk banner with flower and neem leaves garland. A pot is placed upside down on top of the flag. This flag is hoisted at the entrance of the home during sunrise. Gudhi represents the flag of Lord Brahma according to Brahma Purana that signifies the good luck symbol to ward off evil and bring prosperity.
Gudipadwa coincides the victorious day in Ancient India when Satavahana king Gautamiputra Satakarni defeated the Sakas.
Karnataka & Andhra Pradesh: The main aspect of this festival is Panchanga Shravanam. The priest or elder person of the family read the Pancanga to reveal the general forecast of the New Year.
A special dish that signifies the essence of life is prepared on this occasion. It is called Bevu Bella in Karnataka and Ugadi Pachadi in Andhra Pradesh. It is made with six main ingredients neem flower or bud, tamarind, chilli powder/green chilli, raw mango, salt and jaggery. Each ingredient with distinct taste symbolises the real-life moments.
Neem flowers are a bitter taste that signifies the difficulties in life.
Tamarind being sour symbolises the challenges we face in life.
Chilli powder/green chillies are hot and spicy that signifies the anger and disturbing moments.
Raw mango has a tangy taste that symbolises surprises. Ugadi marks the beginning of the mango season in India.
Salt signifies the interest in life. Jaggery is sweet and it signifies happy moments.
So Bevu Bella/Ugadi Pachadi has a mixture of all tastes and flavours which represents the essence of life. It is an indication that a person must face all the elements of life-good, bad, bitter, surprise without fear.
Apart from Ugadi Pachadi, the Andhra festival thali include Pulihora, Paramannam, Payasam, Boorelu, Gaarelu.
Kashmir: This auspicious day is celebrated as Navreh which is derived from the Sanskrit word “Nava Varsha” meaning New Year. On the eve of Navreh, people keep a thali containing raw rice, cooked rice, a cup of yogurt, bread, walnuts along with an inkpot, pen, silver coin and Panchanga of the New Year. These are considered to be seen as the first thing at the Brahma Muhurat. Each item in the thali has a symbolic significance related to this festival.
Raw Rice: A symbol of abundance, growth, development and prosperity.
Cooked Rice: Symbol of transformation and progression. It is a source of energy and considered as a Prasad or gift from God to humans.
Walnuts: Four kernels of walnut represents four Purusharth’s (goals of life) – Dharma (Righteousness), Artha (Wealth), Kaama (Fulfillment of all desires) and Moksha (Salvation).
Yogurt: It symbolises the fullness and stability in life.
Bread: It is a symbolic representation of absorption, expansion and integration in one’s socio-cultural surroundings.
Pen and inkpot: It is associated with knowledge, wisdom, awareness and enlightenment.
Manipur: This festival is celebrated as Sajibu Nongma Panba Cheiraoba by an ethnic group called Meetei people of Sanamahism religion. People arrange a joint family feast in which a traditional food is offered to a local deity at the entrance gates of the houses. After a feast, it is a tradition for family members to climb up the hilltops in Chingmeirong or nearby hills to offer prayers.