Ugadi is a special occasion for the people in South India especially for those in Andra Pradesh and Karnataka. It signifies the opening of a new year, spreading the hearty wishes and joy of people.
Ugadi or Yugadi (as called by the people of Karnataka) is a religious festival observed by Maharashtrians with the name Gudi Padwa. Marwaris in Rajasthan celebrate it as Thapna. Sindhis celebrate it as Cheti Chand. Manipuris call it Sajibu Nongma Panba.
Ugadi is celebrated on March 29, 2017, in the Southern parts of India.
Ugadi is derived from the Sanskrit word ’yuga’ and ‘adi’. It means the starting of a Yuga. It especially refers to the Kali Yuga, the present Yuga we are living in. Kali Yuga started after Lord Krishna left the world.
There are 60 years in the lunar cycle and each year has its specific name. Once the cycle of sixty is over, the first year with its name starts again. That way, the first day of the first year should have started from the day Lord Brahma started his task of creation.
Ugadi falls on the Prathamai thithi after the New Moon Day in the month of Chaitra ("Chaitra Shudhdha Paadyami”- Chaitra is the name of the first month of a year and Shudhdha Paadyami is the Prathamai thithi that falls after the No Moon day). It also marks the time when the Sun enters the house of Aries after the spring equinox. It normally occurs in the month of March-April as per the English calendar.This year Ugadi falls on March 29, marking the start of Hemalambi or Hevilambi Nama Samvatsara (year).
Ugadi heralds the spring season and welcomes every bloom and plant that sprinkles greenery around. It also signals the dismissal of the negative past and the oncoming of the positive present. It sets a new astronomical cycle into motion from the first day of the month of Chaitra. So, Ugadi is considered auspicious and apt for starting new ventures. The astrologers predict the events of the new year with Panchanga and Panchanga sravanam is an important aspect of celebrating Ugadi.
Yugaadikrit is one of the names of Mahavishnu. It means one who creates yugas. Worshipping Lord Vishnu, the creator of the Time Element is very auspicious on this day.
Since it is the day of welcoming a new year, people look jubilant and are ready for their prayers after taking oil bath in the early morning of the day. The house is cleaned and kept tidy for welcoming the new year. In the front of the house, mango leaves are tied in a row and there are beautiful rangolis beautifying the front of the house.
People pray to God for their well-being, prosperity, health, success in work and business and wealth on this day. Ugadi pachadi which is made of six ingredients is the special dish of the day. It is made of six ingredients giving a mixed taste of sweet, bitterness, sour and hot signifying the medley of events one comes across in life. People exchange greetings, visit temples, listen to the panchanga recital by elders or pandits and thus greet the New Year wholeheartedly.
Ugadi pachadi is made of six ingredients-
1. Jaggery for sweetness signifying happiness
2. Neem buds for bitterness signifying sadness
3. Salt for the taste of saltiness signifying fear
4. Green chilli for hot taste signifying anger
5.Tamarind juice for sour taste signifying disgust
6. Neem flowers and a bit of tender mango seed for providing astringent taste signifying the element of surprise
So, these six ingredients mixed together in the form of pachadi render six different tastes mixed together and these six different tastes showcase six different human sentiments. Thus, Ugadi pachadi actually displays how life is a combination of different incidents and sentiments displaying both happiness and sorrow. People should be ready to accept both in life. That is why they take this pachadi on the very first day of the new year.
Pandits or elders of the family recite Panchanga (almanac) in the evening in temples or public gatherings .They foretell the events of the new year through reading the astrological aspects in the Panchanga. Panchanga sravanam is an important activity of the day. People understand what events can take place in the New Year as per the astrological predictions for the new year rendered through Panchanga recital.
Thus, Ugadi heralds happiness, joy, prosperity and wellbeing for the people.