Ugadi or Yugadi, the festival reserved to celebrate the commencement of New Year, is a day especially celebrated with huge fun and fervor in Deccan regions of India. It is assumed that Lord Brahma, the creator of the world began His creation on this day. The first day of bright half of the lunar month Chaitra is considered to be the day for Ugadi celebration, which generally falls in the months of March – April of the English calendar. The festival of Ugadi also welcomes the spring season when nature seem to be immersed in the festive mood and new leaves and new buds along with fresh breeze of spring manifold the Ugadi spirit.
The day is dedicated to Lord Brahma, the great creator of the world who began creation on this very day. It is also a belief among Hindus that Lord Vishnu incarnated in Matsya avatar on this day. As one of the major festivals of Andhra Pradesh, it gathers huge attention of public as well as the media. Celebration includes cleaning of house and surrounding, decorating entrances with green mango leaves, buying new clothes for family and various other rituals. They wake up early morning and use Sesame oil to massage their head and body, post which they take head wash and visit temples to offer their prayers. People make delicious dishes on this day which they share with their loved ones. Some places like Telangana celebrate the festival for three days.
Ugadi is famous as Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra, where it is believed that new ventures started on this day or purchases made give fruitful results. In Maharashtra, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is remembered on this day, so the day is seen as one depicting valiant Marathas who return home after a glorious victory in war. They raise swastika marked metal pot tied with a silk cloth which exhibits their victory and joy after successful expeditions in war. On this day, after washing and cleaning their home, people decorate it with fresh green mango leaves and rangolis. They visit temples to offer prayers and distribute bitter Neem leaves as Prasad.
Preparations for the festival begin a week ahead. Houses are given a thorough wash. Shopping for new clothes and buying other items that go with the requirements of the festival are done with a lot of excitement.
Ugadi is celebrated with festive fervour in the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. While it is called Ugadi in Andhara and Karnataka, in Maharashtra it is known as “Gudipadava”.
On Ugadi day, people wake up before the break of dawn and take a head bath after, which they 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. It is noteworthy that one uses mango leaves and coconuts (as in a ‘Kalasam’, to initiate any puja) only on auspicious occasions to propitiate gods.
People also splash fresh cow dung water on the ground in front of their house and draw colourful floral designs. This is a common sight in every household. People perform the ritualistic worship to God invoking his blessings before they start off with the New Year. They pray for their health, wealth and prosperity and success in business too.
It is a season for raw mangoes spreading its aroma in the air and the fully blossomed Neem tree that makes the air healthy. Also, jaggery made with fresh crop of sugarcane adds a renewed flavour to the typical dishes associated with Ugadi.
“Ugadi Pachchadi” is one such dish that has become synonymous with Ugadi. It is made of new jaggery, raw mango pieces, Neem flowers and new tamarind. The inner significance of this preparation is to indicate that life is a mixture of good and bad, joy and sorrow and all of them have to be treated alike.
All experiences have to be treated with equanimity. Every one should make a resolve that he will face calmly whatever happens in this year, accepting it with good grace and welcoming everything. Consider everything as for one’s own good. Men should rise above sorrow and happiness, success and failure. This is the primary message of the Ugadi festival.
In Andhra Pradesh, eatables such as “Pulihora”, “Bobbatlu” and preparations made with raw mango go well with the occasion. In Karnataka too, similar preparations are made but called “Puliogure” and “Holige”. Here at Abhyasa too we had chanting of stotrams such as Hanuman Chalisa and Madhurashtakam and Lingashtakam. Then the students also sang Bhajans. All the students went for Nagar Sankeertan in the morning inside the campus with chanting of Shlokas and Mantras. After this shlokas there was Homam followed by a Special Lunch for all. The new year began with a hope and enthusiasm for the best to occur in everyone’s lives.