Gudi Padwa is the Hindu festival which marks the beginning of New Year as per a Shalivahan Shaka. The festival is celebrated with utmost fanfare and grandeur in not only Maharashtra but also in other parts of India, particularly in the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Ugadi in Andhra and Yugadi in Karnataka are the same festival but observed in different names. The festival celebrated on the first day of Chaitra, also known as Chaitra Shukla Pratipada according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar. This year the festival will be celebrated on March 29, 2017.
The day is considered extremely auspicious as it is believed that on this very day Lord Brahma had created the universe. As the universe was created this day it marked the beginning of the Satyayug. The day also marks the beginning of Chaitra Navratri, that lead up to Ram Navami, Lord Rama’s birthday to be celebrated on the ninth day.
To mark the festival people first take a holy bath (oil bath) and is followed by a puja. People decorate their homes with Mango Leaves and special Rangoli are made in front of the house or in a courtyard. The main entrance or the doorway is decorated with a ‘toran’ and for the puja, the Gudhi (Lord Brahma’s flag –Brahmadhvaj) is hoisted. Everyone in the family wears new clothes and celebrate the festival by wishing each other.
The festival literally begins on a bittersweet note — with the eating of a specific mixture called Bevu-Bella consisting Neem and Jaggery. It symbolises that life is a mixture of both good and bad, Happiness and Sorrow. It teaches us that we must accept both happiness and sorrow with equal openness.
Practically the celebrations are often linked to the change in season and to the sowing and reaping of crops. This day marks the end of one agricultural harvest and the beginning of a new one. The Gudhi Padwa or Ugadi is thus celebrated at the end of the Rabi season.
As no celebration is complete with special food, Gudi Padwa is no exception. Traditionally, Maharashtrian make and eat Sakkar Bhaat (sweet rice), Shrikhand and Puri and Puran Poli on this day. The Konkanis make Kanangachi Kheer which is a sweet dish made of sweet potato, coconut milk, jaggery and rice.
The day is also believed to be auspicious for ‘vaastu puja’ and for beginning new business ventures. On this day, several processions are also taken out.