Ugadi - The new year that heralds the spring season

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By Dr. Eugene D’Souza, Moodubelle

16 March 2010: Ugadi is the festival that marks the New Year day for people between Vindhya mountains and the Caveri river. The word ’Ugadi’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ’Yugadi’, which means ’beginning of a new Yuga or era’. The festival is quite significant for the people of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. While the festival is known as Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, it is celebrated as Gudi Padva in Maharashtra. Sindhis celebrate the same day as their New Year day known as Cheti Chand.

Ugadi has not been celebrated on a fixed day unlike the New Year Day as in the Western Calendar. It falls on a different day every year as it is based on the lunar calendar. In the terminology used by this lunar calendar, Ugadi falls on Chaitra Shuddha Paadyami, that is, the first day of the bright half of the lunar month of Chaitra. This day generally falls in the months of March or April of the Western calendar. In 2010, Ugadi is being celebrated on 16th March.

It is believed that the creator of the Hindu pantheon, Lord Brahma started creation on the Ugadi day. Also the great Indian Mathematician Bhaskaracharya’s calculations proclaimed the Ugadi day from the sunrise as the beginning of the New Year, new month and new day. Ugadi also marks the onset of spring and a beginning of new life with plants manifesting new life with fresh shoots and leaves. Spring is considered the first season of the year, hence also heralding a new year and a new beginning.

With the coming of Ugadi, the naturally perfumed jasmines (mallige pu) spread a sweet fragrance which is perhaps unmatched by any other in nature’s own creation. While large garlands of jasmine are offered to Gods in homes and temples, jasmine flowers woven in clusters adorn the braids of women. Ugadi is thus a festival of many shades. It ushers in the new year, brings a rich bounce of flora and fills the hearts of people with joy and contentment.

The people of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh celebrate the festival of Ugadi with great devotion and enthusiasm. On Ugadi day, after a pre-dawn bath and recitation of prayers, people decorate the entrance of their houses with fresh mango leaves. The green mango leaves tied to the doorway signify a good crop and general well being. The significance of tying mango leaves relates to a legend. It is said that Kartik also known as Subramanya or Kumara Swamy and Ganesha, the two sons of Lord Siva and Parvathi were very fond of mangoes. As the legend goes, Kartik exhorted people to tie green mango leaves to the doorway signifying a good crop and general well-being.

Another unique feature of the festival of Ugadi is the eating of a mixture of neem buds or flowers for bitterness, raw mango for tang, tamarind juice for sourness, green chilly or pepper for heat, jaggery and ripe banana pieces for sweetness, and a pinch of salt for saltiness. This mixture with all ingredients with six tastes is known as ‘Ugadi Pachhadi’ in Telugu and in Kannada it is known as ‘bevu-bella’. This mixture with different tastes indicates that life is the mixture of different experiences, which a person should accept without any complaints.

In Maharashtra the festival is called Gudi Padva and is one of the most auspicious days for the Maharashtrians. On the first day of the Marathi New Year, it is customary to erect ‘Gudis’. Gudi is a bamboo staff with a coloured silk cloth and a garlanded goblet atop it, which symbolizes victory or achievement. The Maharashtrians usher in the New Year with the worship of the Gudi and the distribution of a special ‘prasad’ comprising tender neem leaves, gram-pulse and jiggery.

In Karnataka a special dish called Holigey, is prepared on the occasion of Ugadi. The special Ugadi dish of Andhra Pradesh is Bobbatlu and in Maharashtra Puran Poli. All these dishes are sweet and of similar type, but known by different names in different states. It consists of a filling Bengal gram and jaggery or sugar boiled and made into paste and stuffed in a flat roti and is usually eaten hot or cold with ghee.

Later on the Ugadi day, people traditionally gather to listen to the recitation of the religious Panchangam (almanac) of the coming year, and to the general forecast of the year to come. This is known as ‘Panchanga Sravanam’, which is an informal social function where an elderly and respected person refers to the new almanac pertaining to the coming year. Ugadi celebrations are also marked by literary discussions, poetry recitations and recognition of authors of literary works through awards and cultural programs. Usually, performances of classical music and dances are held in the evenings.

Bellevision wishes Happy Ugadi (New Year) to all its readers and supporters.


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Comments on this Article
prince, podikambla/dubai Tue, March-16-2010, 3:39
Wish you all happy ugaadi.May god shower his choicest blessings on you all,grant you good health,happiness and prosperity.
shekhar, Rotiguda Tue, March-16-2010, 2:43
Nice to meeting u. bye
alok, gwalior,m.p. Tue, March-16-2010, 1:41
Let us start using free, Indian, green and sweet solar passive thermal energy for cooking, water heating, sky lighting, food dehydrating and water pasteurization instead of highly costly, imported, subsidized, polluting and bitter LPG and kerosene. Happy Ugadi.
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