Gudi Padwa, according to the Hindu calendar, is the first day of the ‘Chaitra’ month marking the start of the Hindu New Year. Likewise, it is considered the Harvest festival, marking the end of the ‘Rabi’ crop for the year. Gudi Padwa is one of the most famous harvest festival, it is the time when fruits like mangoes have ripened and ready to be reaped.
Gudi means Flag and Padwa is derived from the Sanskrit word Pratipada which refers to the first day of a lunar fortnight i.e. the day on which the moon appears after the ‘new-moon’ day (Amavasya) and the first day after the full moon.
In Karnataka, New Year’s Day is called ‘Ugadi’ and marks the first day of the new Hindu Lunar calendar month of Chaitra.
It is believed that Gudi Padwa is the day when the Universe was created. According to Hindu belief, Lord Brahma, on this day, created the world.
Another legend mentions, that this day Lord Vishnu took the avatar of ‘Matsya’ or a fish.
The position of the Sun on this day, according to the planetary and climatic conditions, is above the point of intersection of the Equator, which marks the commencement of the spring season according to the Hindu calendar.
According to legends, this day also celebrates the defeat of Ravana by Lord Rama and his joyous return to Ayodhya after fourteen years in exile and wilderness.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Maharashtra’s greatest warrior, was the first person to start the tradition of Gudi Padwa as a Victory March celebration against his enemies. The raising of the Gudi became a tradition from then on in every Marathi household as a sign of welcoming the New Year.
Gudi Padwa is a day that is considered auspicious and many people choose this day to start a new venture. There is a firm belief among people that displaying the Gudi wards off evil and ushers in good luck and prosperity. It ultimately denotes a triumph of good over evil.
In states across the country, Gudi Padwa is celebrated in different forms such as Samvatsar Padvo among Hindu Konkanis of Goa and Kerala, Yugadi among Konkanis in Karnataka, Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh Telangana State, Navreh amongst Kashmiri Pandits, Cheti Chand amongst Sindhi people. In the North-East state of Manipur, it is celebrated as Sajibu Nongma Panba Cheiraoba.
Gudi Padwa and its different forms are also celebrated in countries like Nepal, Burma, and Cambodia that have a high Hindu population.
Rituals of Gudi Padwa
People who celebrate the festival usually place Gudis at the entrance or near their homes. A Gudi is an arrangement on a long straight bamboo stick decorated in a bright silk cloth adorned with zari work or brocade. It is then topped with boughs of neem and mango leaves along with a garland of flowers usually red color flowers. It also contains sugar crystals (Misri) and is then covered by a copper or silver pot in an inverted position. During the festivity, people engage in cleaning their homes, wear new clothes, and cook traditional food.
Maharashtrian food, on this day, traditionally consists of Shrikhand (a sweet dish made with hung curd) served with puris and Puran Poli. For the Konkanis, they make a special dish called Kanangachi -Kheer, a dessert which is made with sweet potatoes, coconut milk, rice, and jaggery.
Families begin their day by eating neem leaves or a paste made with neem leaves, jaggery, and tamarind. According to belief, the paste is believed to purify the blood and strengthen the body’s immune system.
Buying a new home, vehicle or gold, on this day is considered to bring prosperity to the household.