Gudi Padwa – The Maharashtrian New Year

– By Angana Sengupta

Ugadi in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, Nau Roz in Kashmir, Baisakhi in Punjab, Cheti Chand in Sindhi, Naba Barsha in Bengal, Goru Bihu in Assam, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, Vishu in Kerala marks the beginning of the New Year, new month and new day for the Hindus as it’s the beginning of Chaitra Shukla Pratipada. Thus, Gudi Padwa is celebrated to mark the beginning of Maharashtrian New Year.

According to the lunisolar Hindu calendar, Gudi Padwa is the first day of the year. As India is primarily an agrarian society, hence celebrations are often linked to the cultivation of crops like sowing and reaping of crops. Gudi Padwa marks the ending of one set of harvest and beginning of a new set. Thus, it is celebrated at the end of the Rabi season.

If Brahma Purana is to be believed then it was on this day that Brahma has created the world after the deluge and since then the clock has never stopped.

On this day, the Maharashtrian houses are decorated with mango leaves and rangoli. In the country side, the courtyard is swept clean and plastered with fresh cow dung. Vibrant colours are used for the rangoli to mark the beginning of spring. The day begins with ritual showers (oil bath) followed by pooja to god and Panchanga Shravana. From clothes to sofa covers, everything is new on this day.

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On Gudi Padwa, a gudi is stuck out of the window in a Maharashtrian house or in a terrace or any higher platform so that it is visible. A gudi is a long bamboo stick which is wrapped with a bright green or orange saree with zari topped with an inverted kalash. Gaathi(sugar crystals), neem leaves, a twig of mango leaves and a garland is also tied to the gudi. This gudi is erected early in the morning, worshiped throughout the day and kept till the evening. The gudi is generally positioned on the right side of the house as it is believed that the right side represents the active state of the soul.

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There are many reasons as to why a gudi is raised to mark the beginning of the New Year. It is believed that King Shalivahana has hoisted a gudi at Paithan after his victory over the Sakas. It also represents the victory of Lord Ram over Ravana and the return of happiness in Ayodhya with King Ram coming back. As victory is always held high, gudi is thus placed in higher platforms. It is a symbol of good luck and is believed to ward off the evil and to bring success and prosperity in the house.

Families begin the festival by eating the bitter leaves of neem along with gur (jiggery). Sometimes a paste is made out of neem, tarmarind, ghane and gur which is consumed by the family as it is supposed to strengthen the immunity system of the body and purify the blood. It also symbolizes the fact that life is a mixture of good and bad and sadness and happiness. Thus, whatever comes our way we are supposed to accept it with equanimity.

Along with shrikhand and poori, puranpoli is made on this day. Unlike other festivals, Gudi Padwa, is a very family-oriented affair, but one can also take part in the yatra organised on the previous day, where families bring diyas and float them on the lake. The whole lake is lit up with floating diyas which looks really beautiful. Gudi Padwa is also said to be symbolic of love and devotion between the husband and wife thus, on this day the newly-weds are invited by the in-laws for special meals and resents. Depending on how the day goes the whole year can be determined. So husbands, keep your wives happy on this day to have a splendid year!

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