Gudi Padwa Or Ugadi
This festival marks the beginning of New Year in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and parts of Karnataka.
It is believed that Lord Brahma, created the world on this day and so he is worshipped specially at this time.
Lord Vishnu too is said to have incarnated as Matsya, the fish, on this day. A gudi (banner) with a swastika -marked metal pot and silk cloth is raised to announce victory and joy. In Maharashtra, it is reminiscent of the valiant Marathas returning home from their successful expeditions of war. Maharashtrian take the opportunity to honour their favourite leader, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
People prepare for the New Year by cleaning and washing their houses and buying new clothes. On the festival day they decorate their houses with mango leaves and 'rangoli' designs, and pray for a prosperous new year, and visit the temples to listen to the yearly calendar 'Panchangasravanam' as priests make predictions for the coming year.
Traditionally bitter leaves of the neem tree with jaggery were given as Prasad of Ugadi/Gudi Padwa.
Gudi Padwa is considered as an auspicious occasion to buy ornaments, house and other new things.
The festival is celebrated when the heat of sun began intensifying and the time of harvesting the crop has come. The fragrance of ripening Mangoes, Jackfruit and other seasonal fruits fill the air with sweet smell and are ready to be sold to the marketplaces. Shrubs and trees are blooming with flowers.
Gudi Padwa, also known as Ugadi, is celebrated on the first day of the Hindu month of Chaitra shukla Padyami, which corresponds to end of March or beginning of April according to the Gregorian calendar. This festival marks the beginning of 'Vasant' or spring.
Indian society is largely dependendent on agriculture and e celebrations and festivals are often linked with changing seasons and to the sowing and reaping of crops. The word 'padwa' is a Sanskrit word for crop, which literally means 'Pradurbhu.' 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 Padwa is celebrated at the end of the Rabi season.