All Hindu festivals have their own significance and importance. Hindu culture has a rich heritage, with numerous festivals. Each celebrated festival throughout the year has its own distinct value and ritual practice. Ugadi is celebrated in many states like Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
While it is called Ugadi in A.P. and Karnataka, in Maharashtra it is known as "Gudipadava".
Hindus take pride in celebrating festivals, because it is time for getting together as families. Ugadi like many other Hindu festivals believes in replacing vices with Virtues. This festival is celebrated to thank and celebrate the bounteous crop and also is a sign of the end of an old era and the beginning of a new one.
Significance of Ugadi
The name "Ugadi" came from Yuga + Aadi which means "Beginning of a New age. It is believed that the creator according to Hinduism, Lord Brahma started his work of creation on the Chaitra suddha padhyami(Ugadi). The onset of spring also in some way symbolically marks the beginning of new life. The new life seen in the fields and meadows, with colorful blossoms, also signify prosperity and well-being.
It is believed that Ugadi will be the next age of the Eternal World Drama Cycle, after the Kaliyuga. It is commonly believed that world drama cycle repeats every 5000 years with 1250 years for each yuga.
Ugadi is also regarded the beginning of a new Hindu lunar calendar with a change in the moon's orbit. On this day predictions are made for the New Year. The panchanga shravanam or listening to the yearly calendar is done traditionally at the temples. Preparations for the festival begin almost a week ahead. Houses are cleaned. Shopping to buy new clothes and other items add to a lot of excitement.
The Ugadi rituals
On Ugadi, people wake up before the break of dawn and have a head bath. The entrances of their house are decorated with fresh mango leaves. According to the legend, Kartik asked people to tie green mango leaves to the doorway. It signifies a good crop and general well being.
It is believed that, everyone has the right to get Peace, Prosperity, Health, Wealth and Happiness and this can be done through the festival of Ugadi. Everyone has to change him or herself by replacing the vices with good virtues with the help of Spiritual or Godly knowledge.
If one looks closely, mango leaves and coconuts are used to initiate any pooja or any other auspicious occasions to please gods. People splash fresh cow dung water in front of their houses and make good rangoli's. This is a common sight in front of every household. People perform puja to worship God. They invoke his blessings before they start anything in the New Year. They pray for their prosperity health and wealth.
Ugadi is considered as the most auspicious time to start new ventures. Some people make a mixture with mango pieces, jaggery and Neem flowers. Jaggery represents joy and happiness while and Neem flowers represent sorrow.
Lord Vishnu too is said to have incarnated as Matsya, the fish, on this day.
A gudi (banner) with a swastika -marked metal pot and silk cloth is raised to announce victory and joy. In Maharashtra, it is reminiscent of the valiant Marathas returning home from their successful expeditions of war. Maharashtrian take the opportunity to honour their favourite leader, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
People prepare for the New Year by cleaning and washing their houses and buying new clothes. On the festival day they decorate their houses with mango leaves and 'rangoli' designs, and pray for a prosperous new year, and visit the temples to listen to the yearly calendar 'Panchangasravanam' as priests make predictions for the coming year.
Traditionally bitter leaves of the neem tree with jaggery were given as Prasad of Ugadi/Gudi Padwa.
Gudi Padwa is considered as an auspicious occasion to buy ornaments, house and other new things.
The festival is celebrated when the heat of sun began intensifying and the time of harvesting the crop has come. The fragrance of ripening Mangoes, Jackfruit and other seasonal fruits fill the air with sweet smell and are ready to be sold to the marketplaces. Shrubs and trees are blooming with flowers.
Gudi Padwa, also known as Ugadi, is celebrated on the first day of the Hindu month of Chaitra shukla Padyami, which corresponds to end of March or beginning of April according to the Gregorian calendar. This festival marks the beginning of 'Vasant' or spring.
Indian society is largely dependendent on agriculture and e celebrations and festivals are often linked with changing seasons and to the sowing and reaping of crops. The word 'padwa' is a Sanskrit word for crop, which literally means 'Pradurbhu.' This day also marks the end of one harvest and the beginning of a new one, which for an agricultural community would signify the beginning of a New Year. Gudi Padwa is celebrated at the end of the Rabi season.