A new day brings new hope, new beginnings, and new aspirations. Ugadi originates from the Sanskrit word “Yugadi.” Yug means “Period” or “an era” and “Adi” means “The beginning.” Ugadi literally means the “beginning of a new period or new era.” The festival falls on the first day of the Hindu month of Chaitra also known as “Chaitra Shudha Pratipada” and generally corresponds with the English month of March or April. Widely observed as the Telugu New Year, it is celebrated along the Deccan region of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, and Maharashtra. It is an auspicious day to begin a new venture, constructions of a new home or workplace, sign important deals, purchase gold and silver, take delivery of a new vehicle and more.
Significance of Ugadi
It is believed that Lord Bramha began the creation of the cosmos on this auspicious day. This makes Ugadi the first day of existence of time and universe. Parabramha or the creator of the universe is worshiped on this day. Lord Vishnu created the yugas and is worshipped as Yugaadikrit. Chaitra Navaratri or the Vasanta Navaratri also begins on this day, the celebration of nine days concludes with Shri Ram Navami, the day when Lord Rama, the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu was born.
Astronomically, a new cycle begins on Ugadi. The northern hemisphere gets a maximum of 21 days of sunlight because of the Earth’s tilt starting Ugadi. It is the recharging time for Mother Earth to regenerate with the sun’s energy. Mother Nature is a blooming beauty with the onset of spring. Fresh leaves and shoots start emerging and eventually, she will be covered in a blanket of greenery.
In a way, Ugadi is all about leaving behind the time which has passed and welcomes the new era, new beginnings, a fresh start with positive hopes and expectations.
Preparations and Celebrations
The preparations for the Ugadi festival starts days in advance. It’s time to do some spring cleaning in the house and get rid of unwanted things. In olden days, a fresh coat of cow dung was applied to the home, now a fresh coat of paint is applied, new clothes are purchased, special food is prepared, gold and silver jewelry or other valuable purchases are made.
On the day of Ugadi festival, people wake up before the sunrise. Ceremonial oil-bath is customary. Women apply a paste of turmeric on their feet. Kumkum is applied on the forehead of everyone by elders of the home. The pooja room is cleaned and the idols of Gods and Goddesses are given the “abhyanga snanam“ or the ritual oil bath. It is followed by rituals like “abhishekam,” “alankaram,” “naivedyam,” and “mangal aarti.”
Havans and elaborate poojas are performed in temples and homes. The entrances of temples, shops, and homes are adorned with garlands of flowers and fresh mango leaves. Colorful rangoli designs adorn the doorways and corridors. Families offer prayers to the rising sun and other deities and later visit the temple to seek blessings and make offerings to almighty. Charity or “daanam“ is an important part of the festival. “Bevu-Bella,” “Ugadi Pacchidi” or the mixture of neem flowers, jaggery, tamarind, chilli powder, raw mango, and salt are consumed to mark the acceptance of “Shadruchulu,” or the 6 distinct flavors in life. Each ingredient has a special significance representing different experiences in life. Pulihora-garelu, Bobbatlu, payasam, and other special dishes are prepared for naivedyam and consumption. “Panchanga Shravanam” is read by the priest or elders of the family to forecast the events of the coming year for each member based on their birth charts. Sweets and savories are exchanged with friends, relatives, and neighbors.
Festivities across India
Ugadi is mainly celebrated along the Deccan plateau. The southern states along the banks of river Cauveri and the Vidhya ranges. The celebration is extended to other parts of the country with different names.
Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Karnataka usher in the New Year with Udagi or Yugadi. The festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm. It holds great significance and relevance in life where each year is welcomed with expectations of well-being, happiness, prosperity, and growth. The tradition of rangoli, charity, customary bath, food, and festivities remains more or less the same across the three states.
Maharashtra, Mangalore, and Goa celebrate the Hindu new year on the same day as Ugadi and calls it “Gudi Padwa” or “Sanvsar Padwa.” A “Gudi” is erected, decorated, and worshiped. The festivities continue with family, food, and fun.
Manipur celebrates the new year on the same day as Ugadi. “Sajibu Nongma Panba” or “Meetei Cheraoba” is celebrated with huge fanfare. An elaborate feast is prepared, offered to the deities, and then distributed among the community. Hillock climbing and other traditional rituals are also observed.
Sindhis celebrate the day as “Cheti Chand,” Rajasthanis as “Thapna,” Kashmiri Pandits as “Navreh,” while Hindus of Bali and Indonesia celebrate the day as Nyepi.
The festival of Ugadi holds special significance in the lives of people. Its importance is deep-rooted in ancient beliefs and age-old practices.
Ugadi 2021 falls on the 13th of April, Tuesday. Schools will observe a holiday in certain states. The elaborate festivities are worth experiencing. However, it's important that one takes all the Covid-19 precautionary measures while participating in Ugadi celebrations and maintain social distancing.
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