Ugadi, one of the most important of the Hindu festivals, marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Hindu lunisolar calendar. The festival falls on different dates in either the month of March or April every year. Though particularly celebrated by that name in the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, it is also celebrated under different names in many other states such as Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala, Bengal, Assam, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Goa, and also the province of Sindh in Pakistan. Derived from Yuga and Adi, meaning Age and Beginning respectively, Ugadi means the beginning of a new age, wherein this day also sets the beginning of a new astronomical cycle. This meaning stems from the myth that it was on this day that Lord Brahma (the creator of all universe) began the creation cycle and set everything from an hour to a year to seasons to keep a record of time.
Ugadi Customs & Traditions
According to the traditions and rituals, preparations for the day of Ugadi begins a day or two prior to the actual date with ritualistic washing and cleaning of the houses, every inch and corner. Shopping for decorative items and new clothes to wear on the day is also an important custom that has been followed since one can remember. When the day dawns, ritualistic showers or oil baths are taken by the devotees; followed by prayers and chanting of mantras to facilitate good tidings in the year ahead. It is also believed that any venture that is started on this day ends in a success. After the baths, people start decorating their homes with colorful rangolis or Kolams that are drawn in the front and stringing together mango leaves on the doors and windows. According to an ancient tradition, people flock at the temples to listen to the predictions made by the pundits; this tradition is known as Panchanga Sravanam, which is still very popular as devotees eagerly wait for yearly forecast to be made. However, with the advent of technology and vast media coverage, many people prefer to watch this event on their television sets at homes.
Another inseparable ritual that has been followed for many years or maybe centuries is the preparation of a dish called Ugadi Pachhadi (Telegu). Also known as Bevu Bella in Kannada, the dish is a unique mixture of six different tastes, representing different experiences in life, which every individual should learn to respect and accept and move ahead unrelentingly. It’s also the first dish that people have on this day. Made from Neem buds, symbolizing sadness for its bitter taste; Jaggery, symbolizing happiness for sweetness; green chili or pepper, symbolizing anger for its hotness; salt, symbolizing fear for its saltiness; Tamarind juice, symbolizing disgust for its sourness; and unripened mango, symbolizing surprise for its tanginess. Other special dishes like Obbattu and Bobbatlu are prepared in the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh respectively. Off late, literary discussions, Kavi Sammelans (poetic recitations), recognition of authors through awards and cultural programs for their contribution to literary works, and recitals of Carnatic music and dance programs in the evening have also become a custom on the day of Ugadi.