Happy Ugadi

Come March and Karnataka looks forward to celebrating its New Year. Called as “Ugadi” and falling on March 30th, it is also celebrated in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and as “Gudi Padva” in Maharashtra. Udagi ushers in the New Year for those who follow the Chandramana system. Festivity descends all over the land. People visit their relatives, shops declare big discounts and make lots of sale on this day.

Ugadi comes from 2 words – Yuga and Aadi and literally means “New Age”. This day, the new calendar starts for the people following the Chandramana system (Lunar calendar). It also denotes the formal beginning of Spring season a.k.a Vasantha Ruthu. There is a mythological connotation with celebrating Ugadi. I did not know it first, but a google search yielded a page that gave this…

According to Hindu myths, Lord Brahma created the earth and set days, nights, dates, weeks, fortnights, months, seasons, and years to count the time. During Ramayana period, the New Year was being celebrated on the first day of Uttharayana. So, Chaitra was the 12th month. Varahamihira, a saint who lived in sixth century, started a new method of celebrating New Year on Chaitra Shuddha Prathipade. His calculation was based on the onset of spring.

As would be evident all over Bangalore at this time of the year, many trees would be flowering blossoms. I see a lot of trees lining the roads bearing flowers like those of the Cherry Blossoms. I wish there were a park full of these trees and we could also celebrate something along the lines of Cherry Blossom Festival that is held in Washington DC, USA. Everything is nice around this time of the year – excepting traffic condition and the blistering heat that Bangalore faces these days.

Just like it happens in the North before Diwali, before Ugadi, a lot of homes in Bangalore get a full thorough washing and cleaning. People shop for new clothes. The oil bath ritual that is common in Kerala and Tamil Nadu during the Diwali festival is taken before Ugadi in Karnataka. Doors to homes are decorated with flowers and mango leaves garlands. People perform religious puja or visit temples on this day. Some may start new ventures, some may buy new vehicles… etc. In general, it is considered as an auspicious day.

A very unique aspect, which is also practiced by Maharashtrians, is the Til-Gul. Sweets made out of Sesame seeds are distributed amongst friends and relatives and they are consumed with Jaggery. There is also a slight variation where people consume Neem and Jaggery. Personally, I have not come across these but I have surely participated in Til-Gul ceremonies. During the Tamil New Year, the Tamils do prepare a preparation using Neem Flowers, Raw Mangoes and Jaggery, called as the Manga Pachadi.

This year, it falls on a Thursday. So a lot of migrant people working in Bangalore have taken holiday on Friday and are out of town enjoying a long weekend till Sunday.

Overall a nice festive atmosphere prevails all over the place. Happy Ugadi to you! May the good prevail over evil and may all your ills and problems be vanquished.

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