Ugadi or Yugadi is celebrated as the New Year festival and very auspicious day for the people of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. This festival is also celebrated by several other communities but under different names.
‘Ugadi’ is celebrated with great fanfare in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, in Maharashtra it is known as ‘Gudi Padwa’, the Kokanis celebrated it as ‘Sanvsar Padvo’, Sindhis celebrated this day as ‘Cheti Chand’ and in Rajasthan it is observed as ‘Thapna’.
Ugadi marks the beginning of the New Year. It also brings happiness with the onset of Vasant Ritu (spring). It is the most important festival for Hindus, which falls on Chaitra Shuddha Prathipade (Padya). The nine day long spring festival of Vasant Navratri also begins on this day and concludes on Ramnavami.
When is it observed?
Yugadi or Ugadi is observed on the first day of Chaitra, the first month of the traditional Hindu calendar and is also known as Chaitra Sukla Paksh Padyami. On this day new Samvatsara, which is cycle of sixty years, starts. All sixty Samvatsara are identified by unique name.
Ugadi falls next day of Amavasya (new moon day), on the first day of the waxing moon phase of Shukla Paksh in Chaitra month according to the Hindu lunar calendar will be celebrated on Tuesday, 28th March 2017. Ugadi is also known as Chadramana Ugadi or Chandramana Varsha Thodaku or Vatsara Arambha.
Yugadi or Ugadi is derived from the Sanskrit words yuga means ‘era’ and adi stands for ‘the beginning’ which is as “the beginning of a new era”. According to mythology legend it is believed that Brahma created the universe on this day and gave life to the earth.
Legend has it that this was the day on which Lord Krishna left His body, indicating the end of the Dwapara Yuga and the commencement of the Kalyuga. Kalyuga began on February 17/18 at midnight in 3102 BCE.
Manmatha Nama Samvatsara also begins on this day. The well-known Indian Mathematician Bhaskaracharya’s astronomical calculations in the 12th century determined the date of Ugadi based on calculations of the position of the moon. It starts on the first new moon after Sun crosses equator from south to north on Spring Equinox. Ugadi is celebrated the next morning as an Indian day starts from sunrise.
Ugadi means beginning of an astronomical cycle. The Saka calendar begins with the month of Chaitra (March/April) and the Ugadi mark the first day of the New Year. Ugadi festival signals the advent of spring season and warmer weather. As such it is a joyous festival signifying growth and prosperity and a good time to start new ventures.
Ugadi considered as one of the ‘Sade Teen Muhurat’ among the very auspicious Muhurat of the year. During this time, the Sun and Moon are at their greatest brightness. Hence any activity started will be immensely fruitful.
Ugadi marks the beginning of a new Hindu lunar calendar. It is a day when mantras are chanted and predictions made for the New Year. ‘Panchanga Sravanam’, the religious almanac for the year to come, is the most observed ritual of Ugadi. Predictions for future are organised at temples by the priests.
Rituals and Celebrations
The day, begins with ritual showers (oil bath) followed by prayers. After which they decorate the entrance of their houses with fresh mango leaves. The significance of tying mango leaves relates to a legend. It is said that Kartika and Ganesh, the two sons of Lord Siva and Parvati were very fond of mangoes. As the legend goes Kartika insisted people to tie green mango leaves to the doorway signifying a good crop and general well-being. Hence on auspicious occasions people started to tie mango leaves on entrance to propitiate gods. In front of the house women draw colourful floral designs in welcome of New Year.
‘Bevu-Bella‘ is accepted with gratitude on this festival in Karnataka and also in some parts of the country. It is a mixture of tender leaves of neem and jiggery. The neem, extremely bitter in taste, and jaggery sweet and delicious, signify the two conflicting aspects of human life – joy and sorrow.
Eating ‘Ugadi Pachadi’ is also the most important thing to do in celebrating Ugadi, because it symbolizes the nature of life and its emotions. In Ugadi Pachadi, there are six ingredients: jaggery, Neem (a sour tasting plant), Tamarind juice, Coconut, raw mangoes and green chilly. All these ingredients indicate that life is a mixture of different experiences of sadness, happiness, anger, fear, disgust and surprise which should be accepted together and with equanimity through the New Year.
Special dishes are prepared for the occasion. In Andhra Pradesh, eatables such as “pulihora, bobbatlu“, in Karnataka too, similar preparations are made but called “puliogure” and “holige“. The Maharashtrians make “puran poli” or sweet rotis.
Ugadi is also called the festival of the poets. Ugadi is a time when people look forward to a literary feast in the form of Kavi Sammelanam. Many poets come up with new poems written on subjects ranging from Ugadi to politics to modern trends and lifestyle.
People perform the ritualistic worship to God invoking his blessings before they start off with the New Year. They pray for their health, wealth, prosperity, and success in business too. At night, it is considered highly auspicious to look at the moon. This is referred as Ugadi Chandra Darshan. The celebration of Ugadi is marked by religious zeal and social merriment.