India, the land of festivals is known for its diverse cultures and traditions that have been passed on by many generations. Filled with people of various religions, castes and sub-castes, we are also known to worship more than 30 crore deities. Our land rejoices every festival that is dedicated to the birth of a god/ goddess, the victory of god/ goddess over demons, during harvest season in many states and many more. One such festival is Ugadi. Also called Gudi Padwa or Chaitra Navratri and various other names, this festival is celebrated in quite a few parts of our country.
This auspicious festival is celebrated during the month of Chaitra (season of spring) according to the Hindu lunar calendar, marking the beginning of a new year. Ugadi is termed from the word Yugadi (Sanskrit), wherein Yuga meaning age and Adi meaning a new beginning. On this holy occasion, many people worship their respective house god and goddess Durga.
The unique traditions that mark this festival
This festival is celebrated in the southern states of India such as Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu with their own distinctive traditions. In Karnataka, the families come together to worship their house god. After the pooja, the eldest family member or the head of the family serves a mix of neem leaves, neem flower and jaggery to the other family members while wishing them a fruitful new year. The neem leaf and flower stand for the bitterness of life and the jaggery for the sweet moments.
It suggests that life is a blend of both painful and pleasant moments and also marks the promise of the family to support each other during tough times.
Commemorated with worship, food and music, people of Maharashtra and Goa take to procession and dance and sing during this occasion. They offer puja to the gudhi, meaning flag, which is made of a stick decorated in flowers, mango and neem leaves and on the top covered with an overturned silver or a copper vessel, partially draped in a cloth and carry it along in the procession.
Chaitra Navratri/ Navami
The celebration of the new year marks the first day of this festival in various Eastern and North-eastern states of India. The families worship goddess Durga, offering her prayers and prasad. They take on fasting (vrat) for 9 days and follow a particular vegetarian diet. They offer aarti and read katha of the 9 different forms of the goddess Durga, praying for her blessings. People light diya and keep it lit for the entire nine days of the festival.
Festive décor and attire
Rangolis are drawn in front of the house using colourful powders. The interiors are also decorated with rangolis made of flowers, leaves and diyas. Garlands of various flowers, neem leaves and mango leaves adorn the doors of the house. Pooja thalis are decorated with fruits, flowers, fragrant sticks and the auspicious coloured powders, turmeric and vermilion.
Women dress in colourful silk saris with red bindi or kumkum and ornament their hair with flowers. In the south, ladies wear glass bangles while worshipping or offering pooja. The men wear kurta pyjama or sherwani in the North and men in the south opt for a silk/ cotton shirt and wrap a white or light cream silk or cotton panche (dhoti) with a golden border around the waist falling till their ankle as a bottom. Clothing in colours such as red, green, yellow, cream and gold are preferred.
Prasad and other recipes
Here are a few delectable recipes that are offered to the god as prasad and also a few foods that are served and relished during this festival.
Wishing you all a Happy Ugadi!
Article by Namratha