The onset of the Indian summer has arrived and March marks the celebration of an important Indian festival famous in the Southern, Eastern & Western states of India – UGADI is usually celebrated between March and April based on the lunisolar calendar.
Ugadai - Different Names & Meanings
This year It falls on March 22 ( Wednesday). Ugadi is popularly referred to as ‘Gudi Padava’ in Western India and ‘Pola Boisakh’ in Eastern India.
Ugadi is derived from two Sanskrit words, “Yuga”, which means an age, and “Adi” which translates to the beginning. Ugadi means the beginning of a new age.
As per the Hindu calendar, the first day of the New Year symbolises hope, light, joy and happiness.
As the warm weather of spring sets in & the days get longer while the nights are shorter. Ugadi is the time for a fresh start.
This feast inspires prosperity in one’s life & is welcomed with prayers, fresh energy, delicacies and festive fervour.
Traditional roots of the festival
Hindu texts describe time as being cyclical. According to the scriptures, time is divided into four ‘Yugas’ or ages: Satya, Treta, Dvarpa and Kali. Ugadi is recognized as the day Kali Yuga officially began when Krishna ended his time on earth.
Mythology behind Ugadi
It is also believed that when Lord Brahma created the universe, he could see no other being in creation. Awestruck by who he was, his origins, and his purpose, he began searching in all directions. He looked everywhere and failed to find his cause. He then decided to turn his senses inward and went into deep meditation.
His divine origin was revealed in due course, and he understood his true purpose was to create the universe. Another significant reference is one of the greatest Indian epics, Ramayana, which narrates the story of King Rama, an avatar of Lord Vishnu.
The Ugadi Story
As the eldest of two brothers, Rama was supposed to inherit the kingdom of Ayodhya, but his stepmother sent him into exile for 14 years to ensure her son Bharat became heir to the throne.
After enduring various difficulties and eventually killing the demon Ravana who had kidnapped his wife Sita to Lanka. Rama, his younger brother Lakshman and Sita completed 14 years of exile and returned to Ayodhya triumphant.
Rama took his place as King, so the Ugadi festival is honoured as the day Rama was officially crowned king. A symbolic moment of how good triumphs over evil and the birth of auspicious times.
Ugadi - New Beginning
Ugadi - The New Year heralds new beginnings. It is a time to reflect, slow down, to recommit & reconnect to ourselves.
This festival teaches us to connect with the divine that resides in each of us and provides the intuition to progress in our life.
Rightly so, the season of spring is a beautiful metaphor for Ugadi ; as fresh leaves sprout, nature is at its colourful best and promises newness.
Ugadi - How is it celebrated?
During Ugadi, spring cleaning of homes begins well ahead of time, new clothes are purchased, and garlands of mango leaves, marigolds and jasmine flowers are used as decorations on doors.
When decorated at the door, Mango leaves signify good luck in the New Year. Rangoli (created with flowers or coloured rice powder) add a beautiful touch to the entrance of homes.
The day begins with the ceremonial oil bath, and prayers are then offered & pujas performed. Guests and family members are treated to festive dishes and sweets.
Prayers are particularly offered to Lord Ganesha, Goddess Parvathi, Lord Vishnu, Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Rama and Lord Brahma.
Yugaadikrit was one of the many names of Lord Vishnu, which means creator of ages or Yuga. Therefore most Southern states worship Lord Vishnu and seek blessings for happiness & prosperity.
Ugadi - Ayurveda Perspective
From an Ayurvedic perspective on food; the Ugadi pachadi (A special prasad also known as an offering) or ‘Bevu Bella’ ( Bevu means Neem in Kannada and Bella is jaggery) takes centre stage and is a wholesome representation of the six tastes.
Sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and spicy. These ingredients reflect life's six aspects or emotions and imply that we should accept all these emotions without any judgments or prejudice.
Ugadi pachadi is known to balance the Vata, Pita and Kapha doshas and detoxify the body. It helps fight infections & is an immunity booster when consumed. Spring is also the season for mangoes, and Ugadi pachadi usually is made of jaggery, neem, salt, raw mango pieces & tamarind.
These ingredients represent the six tastes that reflect each of our lives and the various emotions we go through. A beautiful reminder of the essence of our life.
While a few customs and traditions may vary across states, the underlying message of peace, hope and oneness are the same.
We at Samyak wish our Samyak family, our readers and all of you a very happy & prosperous Ugadi.
May you, your families & loved ones be blessed with well-being & happiness for the year and many more years to come.