Ugadi is a major festival celebrated in Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, marking the beginning of the New Year according to the Hindu calendar. In Maharashtra, people celebrate Gudi Padwa on this day, which is also the first day of the ‘Chaitra’ month. Both the festivals are regarded as the herald of the harvest season and this year they fall on April 13.
The word “Ugadi” is made up of ‘yug’ meaning ‘age’ and ‘adi’ meaning ‘beginning’. According to Hindu scriptures, Ugadi is believed to be the day when Lord Brahma created the universe. One of the names of Lord Vishnu is Yugaadikrit, which means ‘creator of the yugas’, so He is also worshipped on this day.
In north India, the day marks the beginning of the spring festival Vasanta Navratri, which concludes on Ram Navami.
In the southern states, people shop heavily and decorate their homes with rangoli and flowers. They use mango leaves and neem to make toranas and start new ventures. They also worship the ‘panchanga’, which is a general forecast of the coming year.
Dishes like Puliogara, lemon rice and raw mango rice are prepared on this day. A major attraction is Ugadi Pachadi (chutney), prepared by mixing jaggery with grated raw mangoes, salt, neem leaves, and flowers. This prasad reminds people that life is a combination of different flavors — the sweetness of jaggery, the bitterness of neemflower, the sourness of tamarind and the pungent flavor of the green mango.
Meals are then first offered to the gods. The rest of the day is spent visiting temples, offering prayers and celebrating with family and friends.
Ugadi also marks the beginning of a new astronomical cycle according to the lunisolar calendar. For 21 days, beginning on Ugadi day, the earth receives the maximum amount of sunlight, so this period is considered as a time when the earth starts to re-energise itself.