It’s the first day of the month of Chaitra when one can find Maharashtrians celebrating Gudi Padwa which is the beginning of a new year. The bright morning sun shines upon the brass pot that hangs upside down on a pole, adorned with a bright silk cloth, flower garland, mango leaves and coconut hoisted outside their homes. It also marks the beginning of spring season and it corresponds with the English months of March or April. For Maharashtrians, Gudi Padwa is one of the four most auspicious days in the year to celebrate weddings or housewarming or inaugurations of a new business and also for buying gold, silver or property.
One can find the sun shining brightly and its rays increasing in heat as the winter melts into searing summer. It is also the time the farmers reap their harvests. The air is filled with the aromas of ripening mangoes and jackfruits. The trees are laden with bright blooms and their heavy scent lies heavy on the air. So the riot of bright colours and aromas tell you that it is the time to welcome the spring and soak in all that the season has on offer.
History of the festival
According to Brahma Purana, this is the day on which Lord Brahma created the world after the Deluge and Time began to tick from this day forth: Satyuga (The Age of Truth and Justice) began. Another interesting legend associated with Gudi Padwa and its celebration says that on this day, King Vali was killed by Lord Rama before returning to Ayodhya victorious. Lord Vishnu is also said to have incarnated himself as Matsya (the fish incarnation) on this day.
Know the significance of Gudi Padwa
One can find the gudi outside most Maharashtrian homes from sunrise to sunset. Gudi is worshipped by offering sandalwood paste, turmeric and vermillion. Then, boys and young men of the locality form a pyramid and the person on top of the pyramid breaks the coconut, which is in the kalash. For Maharashtrians the gudi is a symbol of victory of the Maratha forces led by the great hero Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Gudis are also supposed to ward off evil and invite prosperity and good luck into the house. The word ‘Padwa’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘pradurbhu’ or ‘pratipada’ meaning the first day of the lunar month.
Celebrations take many forms
In the villages people clean their houses and the courtyards are swept clean and plastered with fresh cow dung. In the cities too people clean their homes. On the morning of the day women draw intricate and colourful rangolis at their doorsteps and everyone dress up in new clothes. The day is full of joy and festivities. Traditionally, families begin the day by eating the bitter leaves of the neem tree. It is believed that by eating a paste of neem leaves, cumin seeds, jaggery and salt the blood gets purified and immune system gets strengthens.
As with any other festival in India, this day is also celebrated with an array of delicious dishes which are prepared and shared with family and relatives.Delicacies like puran poli, soonth paak, shrikhand puri and chana ussal are eaten on this day.
Symbolizing New Year
It is Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka
In Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka this day is celebrated as Ugadi. Here too the people begin the day by eating the bitter leaves of neem tree with jaggery or sugar. To them the bittersweet taste is a reminder to accept sweet and bitter experiences in our lives with grace and dignity. There are special foods prepared for this festival. In Karnataka and Andhra, sour-and-spicy tamarind rice – called puliyogare in Kannada and pulihora in Telugu is made. A sweet called holige (which is a cousin of puran poli) is also made.
Symbolizing New Year
The beginning of spring is an eternal symbol of new life. Ugadi also has the sanction of both religion and science. Bhaskara, the renowned Indian mathematician, found from his astronomic calculations that the New Year began the moment the sun rose on the day of Chaitra Shuddha Padhyami or Ugadi. This is based on the observation that the moon changes its orbit on this day.
The word Ugadi is a combination of the words yuga (era) and aadi (beginning). This festival follows Holi, which signifies the end of the old. Devotees offer special prayers and make offerings at temples. People consider it auspicious to start a new venture on Ugadi. Here to people clean and decorate their homes and wear new clothes. They pray for a prosperous new year and visit the temples to listen to the yearly calendar – “Panchanga Sravanam” as priests make predictions for the coming year. These days, panchanga readings are broadcast over radio and television.
As with any other festival in India, this day is also celebrated with an array of delicious dishes which are prepared and shared with family and relatives.
Recipes For “Gudi-Padwa”