Ugadi is a New Year Day for the people of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The word is derived from the combination of two Sanskrit words yuga (era) and adi (beginning).
It falls on the first day of the bright fortnight in the month of Chaitra (March-April), the same day when Maharastrians celebrate Gudi Pawa and Sindhis observe Cheti Chand.
As per legends, Lord Brahma began the creation of the universe on this auspicious day. Even the great Indian Mathematician Bhaskaracharya’s calculations proclaimed Ugadi day as the beginning of a New Year.
Preparations for the festival begin a day or two prior to the actual date. Houses are thoroughly cleaned and decorated. People buy new clothes for themselves and family members.
Adornments that enrich the day:
On the day of the festival, people wake up at the break of dawn, take oil bath and wear new clothes. They decorate the house entrance by tying strings of mango leaves over the doorways. It is considered a sign of good luck. Some also splash fresh cow dung water on the ground in front of their house and draw colorful rangolis.
Special food to be rejoiced on this day:
Ugadi Pacchadi is a special dish prepared enjoyed by people on this day. Ugadi Pacchadi is prepared using jaggery, salt, neem flowers, tamarind, raw mango pieces and chilli power. Each ingredient brings an altogether different taste to the dish and when all are mixed in a definite proportion, results in a delicious dish. Partaking of the dish on the day of Ugadi has an underlying connotation and it is – one should learn to take different experiences in life and assimilate them to enjoy life in totality.
Apart from Ugadi Pacchadi, which is a must for the festival, there are other special dishes that are prepared on the day and are enjoyed with family and friends. Some of them are Semiya Payasam (vermicelli pudding), Pulihora (tamarind rice), raw mango rice, Boorelu (sweet fritters made with lentils and jaggery), Puran Polis (flatbread stuffed with a mix of jaggery, coconut and bengal gram) and Bisi Bella Bhat (rice cooked with vegetables and spices).
Moods of social gatherings:
Members of the house gather and pray together for the health, wealth and prosperity of their loved ones. Another traditional practice on the day is Panchanga Shravanam i.e. visiting temples and listening to the recitation of the religious almanac for the New Year. The recitation is usually done by a temple priest or an elderly and respected person.
Poetic recitations, award ceremonies and cultural programs are organized in the evenings. People visit their relatives and friends and take the blessings of their elders.
The day is considered auspicious for initiating new ventures, making new investments and buying new things for home.
Embrace the New Year with zest:
The rituals of Ugadi festival ensure that one leaves the past behind and steps into the New Year with all the positive energies drawn from various sources. The festival also heralds the onset of spring that brings along new life on earth along with a feeling of joy, growth and prosperity giving a perfect beginning for commencing a New Year.