Updated: June 17, 2020
Gudi Padwa or Samvatsar Padvo is celebrated as the first day of the year by Maharashtrians and Konkanis is a spring-time festival. It is celebrated as Ugadi by the people of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Both Gudi Padwa and Ugadi are celebrated on the same day.
This regional Indian holiday is the traditional new year for Marathi Hindus. It also marks the start of the civil year among Hindus, particularly in the central Indian states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka. It is celebrated on the first day of the Chaitra. This means it usually falls in late March or early April in the Gregorian calendar.
According to religious tradition, Lord Brahma created time and the universe on this day. The Gudhi is said to represent the flag of Brahma as mentioned in the Brahma Purana. It is generally thought of as a good luck symbol to ward off evil and bring prosperity. The word padwa comes from the Sanskrit word pratipada, which refers to the first day of a lunar fortnight. It symbolizes the victory of King Shalivahana and was hoisted by his people when he returned to Paithan.
Gudhi symbolizes the Brahmadhvaj, the flag of Brahma mentioned in the Brahma Purana, because Lord Brahma created the universe on this day. It may also represent Indradhvaj, the flag of Indra. Historically, the Gudhi symbolizes victory of Lord Rama 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.
The day begins with oil bath followed by prayers. Oil bath and eating Neem leaves are must rituals to be followed on this day. Gudi Padwa is not celebrated by North Indians, but they start nine days Chaitra Navratri Puja on the same day and also eat Neem with Mishri on the very first day of Navratri.
The festival is observed with colorful floor decorations called rangoli, a special Gudhi flag made of garland with flowers, mango and neem leaves, topped with upturned silver or copper vessel, street processions, dancing and festive foods.
The same new year festival is known by other names in different regions of the Indian subcontinent. However, this is not the universal new year for all Hindus. Telugu Hindus celebrate the same occasion as Ugadi, while Konkani and Kannada Hindus in Karnataka refer to it as Yugadi. The new year festivities coincide with the five day Diwali festival for people in and near Gujarat.
The new year falls on Vaisakhi between April 13 to 15 for many others, according to the solar cycle part of the Hindu lunisolar calendar. This festival is the most popular not only among Hindus of the Indian subcontinent but also among Buddhists and Hindus in many parts of southeast Asia.
Gudhi means flag. They erect flag on the houses as part of celebration in Maharashtra where its mainly celebrated. The numerous Gudhi arrangements at every household is a notable sight during Gudhi Padwa.
It is a bright colorful silk scarf like cloth tied at the top of a long bamboo. On top of it, one or more boughs of neem leaves and mango leaves are attached along with a garland of flowers. This arrangement is capped with a silver, bronze or copper pot signifying victory or achievement. The whole arrangement is hoisted outside each household, typically to the right, or through a window or terrace which is visible to everybody.
Villages or neighborhoods also come together and host a community Gudhi Kavad, which they carry together to the local Shiva temple. Some temples are located on the top of hills, and groups work together to help reach the kavad to the top.
The Gudhi Padwa festival marks the new year, but also celebrates victory of Maratha warriors in processions.
Traditionally, families prepare a special dish on this day that mixes various flavors, particularly the bitter leaves of the neem tree and sweet jaggery. Additional ingredients include sour tamarind and astringent dhane seeds. This is eaten as a reminder of sweet and bitter experiences of life, as well as a belief that the neem based mixture has health benefits. Maharashtrian families also make many other festive dishes, such as shrikhand and Poori or Puran Poli on this day. It is considered as most auspicious day of the year.
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