India is a land of festivities and celebrations and Hinduism has no dearth of it. Each state has its own practises and culture. There are different new years celebrated throughout the country and this month witnesses the birth of the new year for Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. As per the Shastras, Ugadi marks the day when the tilt of the earth is in such a way that the Northern hemisphere receives the maximum sunlight. This phenomenon sustains for a period of 21 days from Ugadi. The earth is said to revitalise itself with the Sun’s energy.
Ugadi is derived from the words Yuga and Adi. It translates into the beginning of time. It is observed on the first day of the Chaitra month of the Hindu Lunar calendar. This is the day that Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe, is believed to have created days, months, years and the vital elements of nature. It is said to be the day that the concept of Time as we know it began. Lord Vishnu is also known as Yugaadikrit, the Adipathi of The Yugas. Thus he is worshipped on the day of Ugadi as well. The day is called by different names in various communities. It is called as Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra, Thapna by the Marwadis, Cheti Chand by the Sindhis, Sajibu Nongma Panba by the Manipuris and Nyepi, by the Hindu community of Indonesia and Bali.
The festivities begin a week before the festival day. The family members get together and thoroughly clean the house. Lights are strung up around the home and on the compound walls. The streets are decorated with colourful Rangolis each day before Ugadi. The Rangolis are made with rice flour, red mud, Colour powders, dyes and flowers. Ornamental and intricate designs are drawn in vibrant colours. Our lives are said to be as bright and joyous as the colours of the Rangolis. Everyone in the family is excited and shops for new clothes. The elders get gifts for their friends, relatives and the children in the family. Sweetmeats and savouries are prepared to be shared with family and neighbours. The front door of the house and the door of the Pooja room is decorated with a string of Mango leaves, called Thoran.
On the day of Ugadi, everyone in the household rises early in the morning. The elderly ladies chant certain Mantras to start the festival day. Each person in the family is given Sesame oil to be applied all over the body and massaged into the skin and scalp. It is customary to let it soak in for 10 – 15 minutes. This will purify the energy of the body as well as cool it down. Everyone takes a bath, preferably applying the herbal shampoo powder of Shikakhaai to wash off the oil. After the bath everyone dresses up in the new clothes and are asked to look at their reflection in a bowl of Molten Ghee, which is considered to be very auspicious. Then they adjourn to the Puja room. The Puja is performed in 4 steps. Abhisheka: The idols of the Gods are anointed with sesame oil and washed off with clean water. Naivedya: The freshly prepared food and the sweets and savouries prepared especially for the festival are placed before the Gods as an offering. Mangalarathi: The elderly women in the household perform Arathi to the Gods with different sets of lamps and camphor. Alankara: The idols are then draped in new clothes. They are decorated with jewels and flowers and garlands are draped over them. Sandalwood paste and Kumkum is applied as Tilak on the idols. As part of the Neivedya, a traditional offering of flowers from the Tamarind, neem and Mango trees. The fruits of the three trees are also offered. After the Puja, the elders in the family apply Kumkum tilaks on the foreheads of the others. They also perform an Arathi for the well being of the family. This is referred to as Enne Shashtra.
After the Puja the family sits together for the ritual reading of the Panchangam. The Panchagam is a set of texts that predict the events of each year. The Panchangam is also placed at the altar and worshipped that it will show only prosperity and happiness in their lives. Either one of the elders of the family reads from it or an astrologer is invited to read it. Some prefer to go to temples to have it read by the priests there. Only the positive predictions are read from it to project the image of a successful and fruitful year.
The festival of Ugadi would be incomplete without the Ugadi Pachadi, which is called as Bevu Bella in Karnataka. This is a unique dish which is made only during this festival. The traditional recipe calls for raw mangoes, neem flowers, jaggery and tamarind. But people add slivers of coconut, salt, green chillies and banana as well. Each ingredient has a different taste and are said to represent the various emotions we go through in life. Neem – It has a bitter taste and symbolises the bitter moments of life. Jaggery – It is sweet and represents the happiness and joyful moments. Tamarind – It is sour and represents the unpleasant phases of life. Raw Mango – The Tangy taste of raw mangoes is symbolic of surprises. Salt – The Salty taste represents the fears and unknown moments. Chilli – The hot and spicy flavour represents the emotion of anger. It is mandatory for everybody to partake of this Prasad, even small children. Despite the unconventional mixture of ingredients, the dish is quite delicious and is favoured by all. Thus, Ugadi is a much anticipated and welcomed festival that brings harmony and unity within the family and community. We hope that the day finds you all in good spirits and pure joy. ugadi-3-or-where-there-is-topic-for-pachadi