Thursday, April 3, 2008

Gudi Padva

Gudi Padwa, also known as Ugadi, is celebrated on the first day of the Hindu month of Chaitra. This year it falls on April 6th 2008.

According to legend, this is the day on which Brahma created the world after the deluge and time began to tick from this day forth.

India is still largely an agrarian community and there is a theory that the word 'padwa' might have its roots in the Sanskrit word for crop, which is 'Pradurbhu.' The word 'padwa' as used contemporarily means 'New Year', but this day also marks the end of one harvest and the beginning of a new one, which for an agricultural community would signify the beginning of a New Year. Gudi stands for the Gudi that is hoisted outside most Maharashtrian homes. A 'gudi' is a pole on top of which an upturned brass or silver pot called a kalash is placed. A bright green or yellow cloth adorned with brocade (zari) is tied to the tip of a long bamboo over which gathi (a type of sweet), neem leaves, a twig of mango leaves and a garland of red flowers is tied. This is then hoisted by placing a silver or copper pot placed in the inverted position over it. it is also known as Brahms's flag or Brahmadwaj Some also refer to it as ‘the flag of Indra’ (Indradhvaj). On Gudi Padwa, you will find gudis hanging out of windows or otherwise prominently displayed in traditional Maharashtrian households.

Typically like most of our festivals prior to Gudi Padwa house spring cleaning is a must. On the day itself a bath early in the morning, wearing new clothes and meeting and eating meals and prasad with relatives and friends is tradition.

This festival is predominantly celebrated by Maharashtrians as "Gudi Padwa" and special festival foos like puran poli, shrikand puri and soonth phanak are eaten on this day.

Traditionally, the festival begins also by eating the bittersweet leaves of the neem tree. Sometimes, a paste of neem leaves is prepared and mixed with ajwain (carrom seeds), gram pulse, tamarind (imli) and gudh (jaggery).

Gudi Padwa also represents auspiciousness and is one of the best muhurats of the year to start anything important. The day is in particular considered auspicious for building or entering a new house, putting a child to school, or starting a business. With this day begins the new season, the spring.

It is believed as per legend that on 'Gudi Padva' :

* The Universe was created by Brahma.
* Satyuga (The Age of Truth and Justice) began.
* King Vali was killed by Rama.Shri Rama returned to Ayodhya victorious.

This festival is known as Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra and Ugadi in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It has become a custom to hold Kavi Sammelans (Poetry recitals) this day.

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