SHIKHA JAIN writes about the spring-time festival of Gudi Padwa that marks the traditional new year
Gudi Padwa is considered as the harvest festival, which marks the reaping of the Rabi crop for the season. It is celebrated all over the country as New Year’s day, under different names. While this day is marked as Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra, it is variously known as Ugadi (Telugu New Year), Yugadi (Kannada New Year), Cheti Chand (Sindhi New Year) and Navreh (Kashmiri New Year) across the country.
The festival is linked to the mythical day on which Hindu god Brahma created time and the universe. It is also believed to commemorate the coronation of Rama in Ayodhya after his victory over Ravana, or alternatively the start of Shalivahan calendar after he defeated the Huns invasion in the 1st century. The day is also a celebration of the victory march of Shivaji Maharaja, the legendary Maratha leader. People worship the gudi, a cloth that flies like a flag, which is usually a sign of victory in an army.
The festive arrangement seen outside homes gladdens the eye. It comprises of a colourful silk scarf-like cloth tied at the top of a long bamboo. Into the cloth piece, objects like sugar crystals, neem leaves, mango leaves and a garland of red coloured flowers are bundled up. Over the stick, a silver or copper pot is placed in the inverted position, symbolising victory or achievement. This set up is called the Gudi which is placed in a high position to be seen by anyone from outside of the home.
Houses are cleaned, and intricate rangoli designs are made at the doorstep with a burst of colours signifying the arrival of spring. People wake up early in the morning, take a holy bath and wear new clothes. The day starts with the eating of neem extract mixed with jaggery and tamarind. The other highlights of the day include eating dishes like shrikhand and poori or puran poli.
The festival symbolises the warding off of evil, and the invitation of prosperity and good luck into the house. Have a blessed Gudi Padwa!