As Maharashtrians everywhere gear up for the festivities, here are some interesting facts about this popular new year festival. By Satyaki Sarkar
One of the most important festivals in Maharashtra, Gudi Padwa has its roots in the country’s agrarian culture and is celebrated on the first day of the Chaitra month, marking the beginning of the New Year according to the Hindu lunisolar calendar. This is the day on which one agricultural seasons ends and another begins, and farmers consider the festival immensely auspicious. However, aside from the common rituals and practices, there are a few other facts that aren’t that well known. Read on to find out more.
1. Cleansing one’s soul
While the tradition of hoisting the gudi is a very common and a popular practice, there is another that is not so commonly known. A special paste that is consumed on this day that believed to help cleanse one’s soul and get rid of corruption. This ritual is a celebration of purity. The paste is made of six ingredients, each symbolising an emotion, and is consumed by the entire family. The ingredients include neem buds/flowers (denoting sadness), jiggery (denoting happiness), green chilli (denoting anger), salt (denoting fear), tamarind (denoting disgust), and raw mango (denoting surprise).
There are two other stories associated with the start of Gudi Padwa. According to legend, Gudi Padwa celebrates Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana, and his return to Ayodhya. Another says that the festival was actually started by the Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj after defeating Veer Shivaji Raje Sambhaji. It’s said even the tradition of raising the Gudi was initiated by the Maratha leader, and is being followed in Marathi households to this day. Additionally, this is also believed to be the day on which Lord Brahma created the world, and the day on which he adopted the Matsya or fish incarnation to save the world from destruction or pralaya. This day clearly packs in a lot!
3. Variations of the festival
While it is primarily celebrated in the state of Maharashtra, it’s not restricted exclusively to the state. The festival of Gudi Padwa takes on many forms and names, depending on where it is celebrated. In the Deccan region of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, it is known as Ugadi, while in Karnataka it is known as Yugadi, and in Manipur as Sajibu Nongma Panba. Besides this, the festival is also celebrated by Kashmiri Pandits who know it as Navreh, and by Sindhis who call it Cheti Chand.
4. Astrological significance
The festival of Gudi Padwa also has a deep astrological significance, as this is the beginning of spring and marks the day on which the sun is positioned at Aries, the first Zodiac sign, ushering in the beginning of a new year not only in India but also in Egypt and Persia. However, due to the lunar months in the calendar, the sun might not always be at the point of Aries each year on this day. This is fixed by adding an extra month at the end of every three years that makes the cycle balanced once again.
5. Festival of buying
Gudi Padwa is believed to be an extremely auspicious festival, and buying gold on the occasion is associated with bringing a lot of prosperity in to the house. However, gold isn’t the only thing considered to be an auspicious investment. Buying new clothes, a car, or even a house, is believed to bring a lot of good luck to the household, while buying new utensils is believed to be extremely auspicious in improving and maintaining the good health of family members.