Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Indian Festival - Ugadi

Ugadi is the New Year's Day for the people of the Deccan region of India. The name Yugadi or Ugadi is derived from the Sanskrit words yuga (age) and ādi (beginning): "the beginning of a new age".
It falls on the different day every year because the Hindu calendar is a lunisolar calendar. The Saka calendar begins with the month of Chaitra (March–April) and Ugadi marks the first day of the new year. Chaitra is the first month in Panchanga which is the Indian calendar.
[Src: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ugadi ]

Why is it celebrated?
* It is believed that the creator of the Hindu pantheon Lord Brahma started creation on this day
* Also the great Indian Mathematician Bhaskaracharya's calculations proclaimed the Ugadi day from the sunrise as the beginning of the new year, new month and new day.
* The onset of spring also marks a beginning of new life with plants (barren until now) acquiring new life, shoots and leaves. Spring is considered the first season of the year hence also heralding a new year and a new beginning. The vibrancy of life and verdent fields, meadows full of colorful blossoms signifies growth, prosperity and well-being
[Src: http://festivals.tajonline.com/ugadi.php]

When is it celebrated?
March - April every year (as per dates of the Hindu Calendar)

How is it celebrated?
Preparations for the festival begin a week ahead. Houses are given a thorough wash. Shopping for new clothes and buying other items that go with the requirements of the festival are done with a lot of excitement.

On Ugadi day, people wake up before the break of dawn and take a head bath after which they decorate the entrance of their houses with fresh mango leaves. The significance of tying mango leaves relates to a legend. It is said that Kartik (or Subramanya or Kumara Swamy) and Ganesha, the two sons of Lord Siva and Parvathi were very fond of mangoes. As the legend goes Kartik exhorted people to tie green mango leaves to the doorway signifying a good crop and general well-being.

It is noteworthy that we use mango leaves and coconuts (as in a Kalasam, to initiate any pooja) only on auspicious occasions to propitiate gods. People also splash fresh cow dung water on the ground in front of their house and draw colorful floral designs. This is a common sight in every household. People perform the ritualistic worship to God invoking his blessings before they start off with the new year. They pray for their health, wealth and prosperity and success in business too. Ugadi is also the most auspicious time to start new ventures.
[Src: http://festivals.tajonline.com/ugadi.php ]

One of the key aspects of the Ugadi celebration is the Symbolic Eating of a Dish with Six Tastes. The eating of a specific mixture of six tastes called Ugadi Pachhadi in Telugu and Bevu-Bella in Kannada symbolizes the fact that life is a mixture of different experiences (sadness, happiness, anger, fear, disgust, surprise) , which should be accepted together and with equanimity through the New Year.

The special mixture consists of:
Neem Buds/Flowers for its bitterness, signifying Sadness
Jaggery and ripe banana pieces for sweetness, signifying Happiness
Green Chilli/Pepper for its hot taste, signifying Anger
Salt for saltiness, signifying Fear
Tamarind Juice for its sourness, signifying Disgust
Unripened Mango for its tang, signifying Surprise
[Src: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ugadi ]

Note
While the people of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh use the term Yugadi/Ugadi for this festival, the people of Maharashtra term the same festival, observed on the same day, Gudi Padwa. Marwari, people of Rajasthan celebrate the same day as their new year day Thapna. Sindhis, people from Sindh, celebrate the same day as their New Year day Cheti Chand. Manipuris also celebrate their New Year (Sajibu Cheiraoba) on the same day. It is observed as Baisakhi in Punjab and Puthandu in Tamil Nadu. However, it is not celebrated on the same day as Yugadi in Tamil Nadu. It is also celebrated in Mauritius.
[Src: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ugadi ]

Recommended Readings
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ugadi
http://festivals.tajonline.com/ugadi.php

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