Ugadi: Celebrating a New Beginning with the Duality of Sweetness & Bitterness
Aren’t Indian festivals just the best!
Replete with great food, joyful customs, thoughtful traditions and family bonding, Indian festivals also teach us invaluable lessons about different aspects of life.
Through the year, India celebrates various festivals based on the specific time of the year and its significance in the Indian way of life. Come April and different regions of the country celebrate the advent of a new year in their own special way.
For the people of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the beckoning of the New Year is celebrated as Ugadi or Yugadi. The name of the festival literally translates to yuga (age) and adi (beginning) a new beginning.
Celebrated on the first day of the Hindu lunar calendar’s month Chaitra, Ugadi not only celebrates the beginning of a new year but is also a day to wish for a prosperous and joyous year ahead.
Different regions in India celebrate this day based on their own special customs. Our friends in Maharashtra celebrate this day as Gudi padwa; our Sindhi Hindu brothers commemorate this day as Cheti Chand; and our Manipuri counterparts celebrate the day as Meetei Cheiraoba. However, the thought and belief behind celebrating this day is similar across all regions, i.e. celebrating a new beginning in life.
The Origin & Significance of Ugadi
While there are various legends associated with the origin of Ugadi, the most revered tale is associated with Lord Brahma. It is believed that Lord Brahma began the creation of the universe on this day. Ugadi also specifically refers to the Yuga in which we live i.e. the Kalyug. Many of the southern Indian states celebrate the first day of Chaitra Navratri (a nine day celebration that honors the nine forms of Goddess Durga) to mark the beginning of Lord Brahma’s creation.
It is also believed that in the 12th Century Indian mathematician Bhaskaracharya had established Ugadi as the start of a new year, month, and day.
Like many other Indian festivals that celebrate the different stages of harvest, Ugadi marks the beginning of spring. A new harvest season also begins around the same time and Ugadi celebrates that as well.
People believe this day to be highly auspicious for beginning new ventures in life. Ugadi celebrations are said to usher in good luck, wealth and prosperity.
The Interesting Customs
Much like any other Indian festival, the festivities on Ugadi are centered on special foods, decorations and family rituals.
It is common for families to clean and whitewash their homes before Ugadi arrives. Families also shop for new clothes, ornaments and other household items as a lead up to the festivities. Some families also decorate temples and puja rooms with mango leaves and jasmine flowers which are two mainstays of Ugadi.
Families wake up early and take a head bath. It is believed that families must also apply sesame oil on their bodies after bathing. Upon getting dressed in traditional attire, the entire household comes together to offer prayers to Gods. The special food prepared for the occasion is first offered to the Gods and then the family sits down to relish the unique dishes prepared for the occasion.
Importance of Special Food Items
Ugadi celebrations are incomplete without the inclusion of special dishes known as Ugadi Pachadi and Bevu-bella. The dish is prepared by combining Neem flowers or buds, jaggery, green chilies, salt, tamarind juice and un-ripened mango. Each of these foods symbolize the different aspects of life including happy, sad, infuriating, fearful, disgusting and surprise.
In addition to the special Ugadi Pachadi, families also prepare a feast consisting of dishes such as Pulihora, KodhimbirVada, Obattu, Sweet Pongal, Mango Pachadi and payasam to name a few.
Activities to Try to Awaken the Family Festive Spirit on Ugadi
Although Indian festivals are auspicious days when we remember our Gods and deities, these celebrations are a way to bring the family together and help them create a stronger bond. Partaking in familial traditions not only helps us stay connected to our ancestors but also helps create a strong connection with our families in the present day.
Given our busy lives in today’s times, families hardly get quality time to spend together. Festivals and the days leading up to them are the perfect opportunity for family members to carve out time for each other.
There are several fun activities that we can do as families to awaken the Ugadi spirit.
Since cleaning houses is an important part of the festival, we can begin with joining forces to make our homes spotless. Pick different corners of the house and help your mothers or other elders in cleaning the tough spots.
Another fun activity to partake in is cooking together as a family. What can be more fun than being cooped up in the kitchen surrounded by all the delicious foods and giving a helping hand it preparing the different dishes together. Divide duties and get down to business and in no time the food will be ready with a side of memorable moments to cherish for years.
Similarly, be a helping hand in decorating the house for Ugadi. Make use of beautiful and colourful flowers, mango leaves and create beautiful rangolis to brighten your home for the festivities.
But most importantly, understand the true spirit of Ugadi and its special place in the cultural heritage of our country.
Wonderkaftz wishes you all a very Happy and Prosperous Ugadi.