By Aakash Sinha
India, the country of traditions and rituals has a unique place in the world. Its culture and diversity doesn’t have any replica on this Earth. New Year day is celebrated on 1st January all over the world. But, in India people also celebrate New Year day on the basis of the calendar ( Solar and Lunar) they follow. Ugadi, the New Year day for Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh is celebrated with full enthusiasm and traditions.
It is referred as Gudipadawa in Maharashtra.
Origin of Ugadi
The word “Ugadi” has originated from a Sanskrit word “Yugadi”. ‘Yug’ means ‘age’ and ‘adi’ means ‘beginning’, so it signifies “the beginning of the new age”. This festival comes every year in the month of March or April. The date is not fixed as it depends on the position of sun and moon (Indian calendar is based on position of sun and moon).
Religious belief associated with Ugadi
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Brahma started the creation of the universe on the same day of Ugadi or Chaitra suddha padhyami (first day of the bright half of the Indian month of Chaitra).
It is said that Lord Brahma created the days, weeks, month, year in order to count time and then created all other elements on the planet (air, water etc.).
Hindu mythology states that, “If we are happy on Ugadi we will remain happy whole year”. So, people try to be the happiest on this day.
Significance of Ugadi
- Ugadi signifies the change in the lunar orbit as well as the beginning of new Hindu lunar calendar.The trees have new green leaves. New flowers are seen everywhere. The season of spring is accompanied with joy and pleasure of Ugadi.
- “Vasanta Navratri” begins on this day and concludes on the ninth day with another auspicious day “Ramnavmi”.
- Different Mantras are chanted and predictions are made for the coming year.Panchanga Shravanam – hearing of Panchanga (a Hindu calendar based on planetary motion) is done by the priests in temples.
- It is believed that the benefits to the listener as well as the reader, are equivalent to having a dip in the holy river Ganges.
Preparations and Celebrations for Ugadi
The day starts with cleaning and the house doors are decorated with mango leaves and flowers. Oil-bath is a must for everybody. Rich or poor, all should wear new clothes. There is an interesting story behind the practice of decorating with mango leaves.
Subramanya and Ganesha, the sons of Lord Shiva and Parvati loved eating mangoes. Kartik asked people to bind leaves of mango tree to the doors in order to indicate a good yield.
After offering prayers to Sun, Vepapoota Pachadi (Neem Flower Pickle) is eaten on an empty stomach. It tastes sweet, hot as well as sour. People perform the ritualistic worship to God invoking his blessings before they start off with the New Year.
Rituals and Traditions followed on Ugadi
This festival is has a lot of rituals to follow. According to the information available on a state website,some of the common rituals are:
- Reflection in Ghee: Watching one’s reflection in a bowl of molten ghee.
- Enne (Oil) Shastra: Elderly women of the family apply kumkum (sindoor) to the younger members and perform evening prayers.
- Abhyang: Oil bath is taken by all family members. Also, the idols of God are bathed with oil.
- New Dresses: Everyone should wear new clothes.
- Offering flowers: Mango leaves and neem flowers are offered to God to make the day auspicious. Also, doors are decorated using these.
- Worship: People worship God involving steps of Abhisheka, Alankara, Naivedya and Mangalarathi.
- Panchanga Pooje: After worshipping God, Panchanga for the New Year is worshipped.
- Bevu Bella: A seet, sour and bitter dish prepared on this day.
- Oota: Offering meals to God and then eating it as Prasada or Oota.
- Visiting temples: Visiting temples and seeking blessings of the Almighty.
Food prepared on Ugadi
Bevu Bella is the main item prepared at every house on this day. It is a paste of jaggery, neem, tamarind juice and raw mango. The importance of this dish is that it denotes all tastes of life.
The sweet, sour and bitter taste of Bevu Bella reminds us that, “Life is a mixture of sadness and happiness”. We should face it in all forms.
Apart from Bevu-Bella, several south Indian dishes are prepared to mark this auspicious day.
A happier day means a happy year ahead. So goes the belief.
Aakash is pursuing B.E , Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Sir M. Visvesvaraya Institute of Technology, Bangalore.