Celebration of Hindu New Year
Some of the significance attributed to celebrating the New Year
India is a predominantly agrarian society. Thus celebrations and festivals are often linked to the turn of the 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. In this context, the Gudhi Padwa – New Year is celebrated at the end of the Rabi season. Guḍhī Pāḍavā is one of the Saadhe Teen Muhurta in the Indian Lunar calendar.
On this day, the sun assumes a position above the point of intersection of the equator and the meridians. According to the Hindu calendar, this marks the commencement of the Vasanta ritu or the spring season.
Gudhi symbolizes the Brahmadhvaj mentioned in the Brahma Purana, because Lord Brahma created the universe on this day. It may also represent Indradhvaj. According to the Brahma Purana, this is the day on which Brahma created the world after the deluge and time began to tick from this day forth. This day also commemorates the commencement of the Shaka calendar after [Gautamiputra Satakarni], also known as defeated sakas in battle in 78 A.D.It symbolizes the victory of King Shalivahana over Sakas and was hoisted by his people when he returned to Paithan.
Historically, the New Year symbolizes Lord Rama’s victory and happiness on returning to Ayodhya after slaying Ravana. Since a symbol of victory is always held high, so is the Gudhi (flag). It is believed that this festival is celebrated to commemorate the coronation of Rama post his return to Ayodhya after completing 14 years of exile. So, people celebrated victory of lord Rama every year by raising Gudhi. Gudhi is symbol of victory of lord Rama.
Gudhi is believed to ward off evil, invite prosperity and good luck into the house.
New Year in different regions and states
Festival is celebrated as Guḍhi Paḍawa in Maharashtra, which is known as Samvatsar Padvo among Hindu Konkanis of Goa and Konkani Diaspora in Kerala. Yugadi among the rest of Konkani Diaspora in Karnataka is known as Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh and telangana. And also it is Navreh or Navreh amongst Kashmiri Pandits and Cheti Chand among the Sindhi people. It is also celebrated in the North-East state of Manipur where it is known by the name Sajibu Nongma Panba Cheiraoba. People prepare a variety of cuisine on this day and later in the evening people climb nearby hillock.
Gudhi Padawa (Marathi: गुढी पाडवा; Telugu ఉగాది Ugadi; Kannada: ಯುಗಾದಿ Yugadi is derived from the Sanskrit name for Chaitra Shukla Pratipad. It is celebrated on the first day of the Chaitra month to mark the beginning of the New year according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar. The word पाडवा (pāḍavā) or पाडवो (pāḍavo) or पड्ड्वा/पाड्ड्वो (pāḍḍavā/pāḍḍavo) comes from the Sanskrit word प्रतिपद or प्रतिपदा (pratipadā) in Sanskrit, which refers to the first day of a lunar fortnight. In south India, first day of the bright phase of the moon is called pāḍya (Kannada: ಪಾಡ್ಯ; Telugu:పాడ్యమి, paadyami; Konkani: पाड्यॆ, ಪಾಡ್ಯ). Konkani Hindus variously refer to the day as संसर पाडवो or संसर पाड्यॆ (saṁsāra pāḍavo / saṁsāra pāḍye), संसार (saṁsāra) being a corruption of the word संवत्सर (saṁvatsara). Konkani Hindus in Karnataka also refer to it as युगादि, ಯುಗಾದಿ (ugādi). Pohela Boishakh celebration is also celebrated in Bengal with a gap of few days.
Gudhi Padwa is derived from the Sanskrit name for Chaitra Shukla Pratipad. It is celebrated on the first day of the Chaitra month to mark the beginning of the New Year according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar.
Here are five of the most important rituals associated with New Year celebration and this is what they signify:
- The Abhyanga Snana or the Holy Bath
India, unlike several western countries that have a temperate climate, is a tropical country. And so unlike in the West, a bath becomes a very important part of any given day. The Abhyanga snana or the holy bath has a special significance. Traditionally, people massage oil using utane (herbal powder) to bathe themselves. A bath/shower is traditionally associated with cleansing of the body and indeed the soul. It isn’t unusual for people having access to clean rivers and ponds to have their bath in the open and pay their respects to the Sun. The idea of having the abhyanga snana before sunrise is that you should be clean and ready to welcome the Sun.
- The Rangoli
Derived from the Sanskrit word rangavalli, the art form of Rangoli predates sculpting and painting. Traditionally these colorful patterns are drawn in courtyards of houses. Rangolis are typically geometric patterns drawn on the floor. The patterns are believed to manifest themselves into vibrations in the observer’s mind and have a calming effect. Traditional Hindu beliefs suggest that Rangolis also ward off negative energies and attract good luck.
- The flower decorations
Gudi Padhwa marks the beginning of spring. With spring arrives the fresh blossoms and tropical flowers of all colors and fragrances. Flowers, in any culture, have come to be associated with good luck and best wishes. With spring, flowers are readily accessible and are easiest and the best form of decorating one’s home. Various flowers signify various things but in general they symbolize purity and spread positive energy.
- The Gudhi
The Gudhi itself is a wooden staff covered with a yellow or saffron cloth, twigs of neem and mango leaves and an upturned metal pot. It serves as a flag of sorts. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj hoisted Gudhis atop forts at the end of every major victory. It is thus not unusual to also find saffron flags being hoisted on the day of Gudhi Padhwa. The Gudhi has to be positioned to the right of the house and must be displayed in such a manner that it is visible from afar too.
- The Prasad
As with all other festivals, there are a lot of sweet preparations made during Gudhi Padawa. Traditional recipes of Gudhi Padawa are Pruanpoli, Basundi, Lapshi etc. but the prasad itself is unique in that it is a mix of neem and jaggery. The combination of bitter and sweet is said to symbolize the journey of life itself, which can never be complete without a healthy mix of sorrow and joy.
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Wish you all a happy, successful and healthy year ahead!!!