Gudi Padwa

Gudi Padwa or Samvatsar Padvo is celebrated as the first day of the year by Maharashtrians and Konkanis is a spring-time festival.

Updated: October 10, 2018

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.
According to Luni-Solar calendar, Gudi Padwa is Marathi New Year. Luni-Solar calendars consider the position of the Moon and the position of the Sun to divide the year into months and days. Solar calendar is the counter-part of Luni-Solar calendar which considers only position of the Sun to divide the year into months and days. This is why Hindu New Year is celebrated twice in the year with different names and at two different times of the year. Based on Solar calendar the Hindu New Year is known as Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam, Vaisakhi in Punjab, Pana Sankranti in Orissa and Naba Barsha in West Bengal.
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 word padwa comes from the Sanskrit word pratipada, which refers to the first day of a lunar fortnight. 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. 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.
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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