Ugadi 2019: Facts You Didn’t Know About This Festival

Celebrated as New Year’s Day in many states of India, Ugadi also heralds the onset of spring. We give you some interesting facts about this festival.

By Aruna Raghuram

Ugadi 2019: Facts You Didn’t Know About This Festival

Come April 6 2019, the festival of Ugadi will be celebrated in several states across the country with zeal and joy. Ugadi or Yugadi is a combination of two Sanskrit words – ‘yug’ (era) and ‘aadi’ (beginning). Hence, it symbolises a new beginning. Ugadi is celebrated on shukla paksha (bright fortnight) of the first month of the Hindu calendar, Chaitra. This generally falls in late March or early April.

It is believed that on this auspicious day Lord Brahma started creating the elements of the Earth. Ugadi 2019 also heralds the arrival of vasanta ritu or spring. This time of the year is marked by bright sunlight, with trees sprouting new leaves and buds. This way, Ugadi is associated with the vibrancy of nature, and life. This is also the time to welcome the king of fruits, mango, and for harvesting Rabi crops.

Facts about Ugadi

1. One festival, many names

Ugadi 2019 is celebrated as New Year’s Day in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. In Maharashtra, this festival is called Gudi Padwa. The Konkanis of Goa call it Samvatsar Padvo. While Sindhis observe it as Cheti Chand, in Manipur it is known as Sajibu Nongma Panba. In Rajasthan, it is celebrated as Thapna, while in Kashmir it is called Navreh. The Hindu community in Indonesia celebrates the festival as Nyepi.

2. Ugadi background 

As legend goes, the demon Somakasura stole the Vedas from Lord Brahma and hid them in the ocean. Without the vedas, Lord Brahma couldn’t continue with creating the universe. Lord Vishnu in the Matsyaavatara killed the demon and gave the Vedas to Lord Brahma. The day this happened is celebrated as Ugadi.

3. Ugadi panchangam 

One of the important Ugadi 2019 rituals is ‘Panchangam Shravanam’ or listening to the reading of the panchangam (almanac) by an astrologer to predict the year ahead. Traditionally, it was done in the temples, but these days one can hear it on radio or television. The panchangam lists the fortunes of individuals according to their astrological signs and predicts rainfall, eclipses and other happenings in the country.

4. Ugadi pachadi 

The most important dish prepared during Ugadi is ‘Ugadi pachadi’. The Ugadi pachadi ingredients comprise all the six tastes. The pachadi is made of jaggery (sweet), salt (salty), tamarind (sour), neem flowers (bitter) raw mango (tangy) and chilli powder (spicy). These six tastes symbolise that life is a mixture of experiences. Consuming the pachadi teaches us to accept all kinds of experiences in life. Apart from this message, consuming neem with tamarind and raw mango increases immunity.

In Karnataka, people eat bevu (flower buds of the neem tree) mixed with bella (jaggery). This dish signifies that life will always be a mixture of sweetness and bitterness, and one should take life’s ups and downs with equanimity. This is essentially the philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita.

Ugadi pachadi recipe

Ingredients

  • Water – one-and-a-half cups
  • Peeled and chopped raw mango pieces – 2 tablespoons
  • Neem flowers – 1 tablespoon
  • Jaggery – 3 tablespoons
  • Tamarind juice – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt – according to taste
  • Red chilli powder – according to taste

Method: Soak the tamarind in warm water till it softens and squeeze out the thick juice. Put the jaggery in a cup of hot water and strain after it melts. Add this strained jaggery to the tamarind juice. Add the neem flowers, raw mango pieces, red chilli powder and salt. This is a basic version of the pachadi. There are many variations of this dish.

Some of the other delicacies prepared as Ugadi special food are puliyogare (tamarind rice), obattu or puran poli, sweet pongal, kothambir vada, mango pachadi and moong dal payasam. The Konkanis prepare ‘kanangachi kheer’, a desert with sweet potato, coconut milk, rice and jaggery. Ugadi pickle – vepapoota pachadi (a pickle made of neem flowers) is prepared and consumed on an empty stomach.

How people celebrate Ugadi across states

People prepare for Ugadi almost a week ahead by cleaning their homes and buying sweets and gifts. The day begins with a ritualistic sesame oil bath. It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi resides in oil and Goddess Ganga in water on Ugadi day. On taking an oil bath, a person receives the blessings of both goddesses. Like on most festival days, on this day people wear new clothes and visit a temple.

Fresh mango leaves are hung at the entrance of houses and rangolis are made to mark the occasion. Red mud is also used to decorate the entrance and welcome visitors. In rural areas, people purify their houses and surrounding areas with fresh cow dung. As part of Ugadi rituals in Karnataka, people make garlands of jasmine and offer them to the gods. They also place a coconut on a kalash beside the doorway to ensure peace in their homes.

As part of the rituals, idols of gods are bathed in sesame oil. Neem, tamarind and mango flowers are offered to the deities. Elderly women apply kumkum on the foreheads of all family members and then perform aarti. It is also believed to be an auspicious practice to watch one's reflection in a bowl full of hot ghee!

In Maharashtra, ‘gudis’ or dolls are placed at the entrance of the house. The dolls are made by tying a bright, colourful cloth to a bamboo stick with sugar crystals, neem and mango leaves, and a garland of red flowers. An inverted silver or copper pot is placed on the stick. These ‘gudis’ keep evil spirits at bay and usher in good luck and prosperity.

On the occasion of Cheti Chand, Sindhis celebrate the birth of their patron saint Jhulelal. Sindhis also worship water – the elixir of life – on this day. Kashmiris prepare the Navreh thaal consisting of unhusked rice, bread, yogurt, sugar candy, walnuts, almonds, salt, flowers, a silver coin, a mirror, a pen and the new panchangam. In Manipur, the festival is celebrated with family gatherings, feasts and offerings. After the feast, family members climb a hillock to pay tribute to the god of the hills.

Ugadi 2019 is an auspicious day to start anything new like a business, buying a house, gold or a vehicle. People also donate to temples or community centres on this day.

How to celebrate Ugadi with children

An interesting activity for children is making cards with Ugadi wishes for friends and family members. Since Ugadi is also a harvest festival, children can be encouraged to plant seeds and care for the saplings. It is celebration time for children as they get to wear new clothes, eat delicious food and get gifts from elders.

As part of Ugadi festival activities, people also organise programmes of bhakti sangeet. Kavi sammelans are also held where people engage in literary discussions and recite poems.

This way, Ugadi celebrations are marked by both religious spirit and social merriment. Ugadi 2019 brings with it a message for us to accept happiness and sorrow, success and failure with equanimity as they are a part of life. The festival also ushers in new beginnings in all ways and symbolises making a fresh start in life. 

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