Ugadi festival – New Year’s Day for the people of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana States. It is equally important for the people of Maharashtra. It is also the New Year for them but is known by a different name ‘Gudipadava’. It is festively observed in these regions on the first day of the Hindu Uni-solar calendar month of Chaitra. This falls in March or April of the Gregorian calendar.
This festival is rich in color, flora that marks the advent of spring and the commencement of the New Year.
Ugadi is a festival celebrated all across the Deccan regions of India with much fun and fervour. The word Ugadi has originated from the Sanskrit words – ‘yug’ means era and ‘aadi’ means beginning. So it marks the beginning of the new era.
Among the few legends associated with Ugadi, there is one pertaining to Brahma that is widely popular. It is believed that Lord Brahma began creating the world on this day and Ugadi refers specifically to the Yuga in which the current generation lives i.e. the Kalyug.
It is also referred to as Chaitra Suddha Paadyami according to Hindu religious texts.
Ugadi festival also coincides with the onset of spring and the harvest season. This day is also considered highly auspicious to start new ventures. However, all business transactions are carried out after certain religious observances that are said to bring good luck, wealth and prosperity to believers.
The Celebration of Ugadi festival:
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 “Indra Dhwaja”, which is meant to bring in rain is worshiped 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 colored powder can also be used to fill the outlined figure.
Significance of Ugadi festival :
The auspicious occasion of Ugadi is associated with Lord Brahma, the creator of the Universe. All the elements of nature along with days, months are believed to be created by Lord Brahma. As it falls on the onset of the spring, it marks the commencement of healthy and prosperous New Year. Many rituals are associated with the festival of Ugadi.
Style and Variety :
In preparation for the New Year, men and women in Karnataka buy new clothes and ornaments for this day. Traditionally, the men dressed in a white or off-white linen shirt paired with a panche or long loin cloth that is embellished with gold zari.
While visiting the temple, men also don the Angavastram, which is a rectangular cloth of a similar color and embellishment. In recent times however, men prefer wearing new shirts and trousers. Both attires are completed with a gold chain with a gold wrist watch to match.
Customs of Ugadi Festival :
- People begin the auspicious day by taking bath at the break of the dawn and then wear new clothes.
- The mango leaves are used to decorate the entrance of the houses to please Lord Kartikeya and also Lord Ganesh. It is believed that the two Lords are fond of mangoes. These Ugadi festival ritualsa re followed so that the Gods bless them with prosperity and well-being. The fresh mango leaves to the doorway symbolizes a good yield.
- As Ugadi festival rituals, people purify their houses and the surrounding environment with fresh cow dung which is considered pious according to Hindu customs.
- Making Rangolis outside the houses is one of the very important and significant Ugadi festival activities.
- One of the Ugadi rituals is Panchanga Sravanam. Accordingly, a pundit is called to prepare the yearly forecast of each member of the house. This ritual to predict the future on the day of Ugadi is one among the many popular Ugadi festival activities.
- Delicious vegetarian meals are prepared as a part of customs of Ugadi festival.
Ugadi festival special dish :
The significance of Ugadi Pachadi is immense as it symbolizes the essence of life. This special dish is prepared with ingredients like:
Jaggery (sweet): symbolizing happiness
Salt (salty) :showing interest in life
Tamarind (sour) :symbolizing challenges
Neem flowers (bitter) : shows difficulties of life
Raw mango (tangy): indicating surprises and new challenges
Chilli powder (spicy): showing the angry moments in one’s life.
The dish is significant as it has all the tastes of life. It teaches that life is a mixture of all the emotions. Each and every ritual followed on this day, has its own significance. Hanging of mango leaves and placing a kalash near the door or the calling of the priest to make the yearly forecast are all part of Ugadi significance and symbolism.
Panchagna Sravanam – Recitation of Almanac (New Year Calendar) :
Ugadi marks the beginning of a new Hindu lunar calendar with a change in the moon’s orbit. There is a strange thing about the practices of the different sects of Brahmins. Although they are all Brahmins, various differences in the lineage can be traced among them. These differences are reflected in their particular calendars, where the months and dates vary.
Some pundits calculate the dates of the calendar according to the lunar system and some do it according to the solar system. Hence, there is a Tamil New Year’s Day, a Telugu New Year’s Day and a New Year’s Day different from that observed in the almanac of Northern India.
The panchanga sravanam-recitation of almanac (new year calendar) is done by the officiating priest at the temples. The presiding chief during Panchanga Sravanam reminds the listener of Lord Brahma, who is the creator of the universe.
Predictions for wealth and prosperity are read out along with influence of the constellations on the various aspects of life. The listeners at the end of the panchagna sravanam-recitaion of almanac (new year calendar), seek the blessings of the priest.
Regional Names of Ugadi :
This festival is celebrated in different states of India and Ugadi has different names. The different names of Ugadi festival are Barhaspatyamana for the people living north of the Vindhya hills. It is observed as Chandramana or Sauramana for those living south of the Vindhya hills.
Other names of Ugadi are Gudipadava as called by the Marathas, and the Sindhis observe it as Cheti Chand. In Manipur, this festival is known by the name of Sajibur Cheiraoba.
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