Ugadi marks the beginning of the New Year. It also brings happiness with the onset of Vasanth Ruthu (spring). It is the most important festival for Hindus, which falls on Chaitra Shuddha Prathipade (Padya). 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.
Followers of Chandramana system (Shalivahana Shaka), mostly living in southern states including Marharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andra Pradesh and Kerala, celebrate Ugadi as New Year on Chaitra Shuddha Padya. But those who follow Vikrama Shaka system and also the devotees of Goddess Shakthi celebrate New Year on Karthika Shuddha Padya.
Ugadi name has been changed from Yuga Aadi (Yuga + Aadi means beginning of New age). It is believed that the creator of the Hindu pantheon Lord Brahma started creation on this day – Chaithra Shuddha Prathipade or the Ugadi day.
Ugadi heralds the beginning of the New Year, new month and new day. It also marks a beginning of new life with plants acquiring new life, shoots and leaves. Chaithra Masa (month) ends the shivering winter season. We see budding tender leaves, flowers and fruits; listen to chanting of birds and smell fragrance of flowers from distance. We find happiness booming everywhere. So, the earth will appear in a special delight. Naturally, it is the happiest day of the year. The vibrancy of life and verdant fields and meadows full of colorful blossoms signifies growth, prosperity and well-being.
Preparations for the festival begin a week ahead. Houses are given a thorough wash. Shopping for new clothes and buying other items that go with the requirements of the festival are done with a lot of excitement. People wake up before the break of dawn, apply coconut oil on their skin and take a head bath after which they decorate the entrance of their houses with fresh mango leaves. Wearing new clothes, they offer Pooja for the God, invoking his blessings before they start off with the New Year. They pray for their health, wealth and prosperity and success in business too. Ugadi is the most auspicious time to start new ventures.
People consume Bevu (neem) and Bella (jaggery). The neem, though tastes bitter for the tongue, it is good for health. It is also used in cosmetics, toothpaste, soaps, cow fodder, manure, oil and others products due to its high medicinal contents. It is also useful for patients having diabetes and skin diseases.
Jaggery increases haemoglobin in blood and provides additional energy for the body. Sugarcane, the raw material for producing jaggery, helps in having strong teeth and health gems. Its juice fights against jaundice.
The inner significance of this is to indicate that life is a mixture of good and bad, joy and sorrow, success and disappointment, and all of them have to be treated alike. All experiences have to be treated with equanimity. Every one should resolve to face calmly whatever happens in this year, accepting it with good grace. Consider everything is for one’s own good. Men should rise above sorrow and happiness, success and failure. Auspicious days like Ugadi should be used for making resolutions to change our way of life and to purify our behaviour by giving up all bad qualities. Ugadi is a festival that teaches lessons in selfless service.
People listen to Panchanga (Panchanga Shravana-listening to the yearly calendar) on Ugadi. Experts will open the new Panchanga on the day and explain the forecast of rain, crop, storms, crop prices and other relevant things. Prediction of the whole year and make people prepared to face any situation. People also watch the moon (Chandra Darshana) as it an eventful day.
Ugadi marks the beginning of a new Hindu lunar calendar with a change in the moon’s orbit. This festival is celebrated with fervour in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Known as Ugadi in AP and Karnataka, it is known as Gudipadava in Maharashtra. People prepare for the occasion by spring-cleaning their houses and buying new clothes and other items. Houses are decorated with fresh mango leaves. There are also typical dishes associated with Ugadi.
It is the beginning of the Telugu New Year. Spring is the first season of the year, Chaithra is the most vital month and the bright fortnight (Shukla Paksha) is the better part of the month. The first day of the lunar month is auspicious. As all these important elements are present, it has special significance as marking the commencement of a New Year, described as Ugadi.