The festival ‘Ugadi’ has a very special place in my mind. It reminds me of the culture, traditions, beliefs and cuisine of Andhra Pradesh. A good amount of my life, I have lived there and this day makes me feel nostalgic. People have deep love and respect towards their traditions, rituals and beliefs.
‘Ugadi’ is the New Year festival celebrated every Year in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. The name of this day or festival is ‘Ugadi’ in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, and the name in Maharashtra is ‘Gudi Padva’.
The festival of Ugadi also represents the celebration of Nature’s bounty during Spring Season. Spring season brings with it fresh green leaves, fruits and flowers of different colours. Spring represents new life, new beginnings, new aspirations and a fresh new approach towards living with hope and happiness. Fresh raw green Mangoes have a special significance in India. Mangoes are always worshipped and offered to God before consumed. Leaves of Mango tree are used to decorate the entrance of every house as it symbolizes prosperity. Raw Mangoes,leaves, flowers signify fertility, growth, prosperity and overall well-being of the family.
The the day and date of this day depends on the Lunar Calender. Among Hindus, there are two different calenders. One which is followed by the orbit of Moon [Lunar Calender] and the other follows the orbit of Sun [Solar Calender].
In Andhra Pradesh, the first day of the Hindu Lunar Calender begins with a bath early in the morning followed by worship of deities and prayers at home. People usually wear new clothes. I remember, wearing new clothes myself. The atmosphere used to be filled with the aroma of raw mangoes and an excitement of festivity.
People also visit the Temples to seek blessings for a prosperous New Year. There is a tradition of reading Astrological predictions for all Moon signs by Temple priests.
The first thing to be consumed in the morning on the day of ‘Ugadi’ is the ‘Ugadi Pachadi’ which is a syrup made with raw mangoes, neem leaves, green chilli, jaggery and tamarind. This syrup has all the five tastes: sweet, sour, bitter and spicy. It signifies all the sweet and bitter experiences of life. Life offers experiences of different tastes. All the ingredients in the ‘Ugadi Pachadi’ is added in equal quantities so that the New Year offers experiences in equal proportion. I too have always tasted the ‘Ugadi Pachadi’ every year on ‘Ugadi’ as long as, I was there.
The day is complete with sumptuous meals enjoyed with family and friends. As no festival in India is ever complete without the preparation of traditional home-made sweets, this festival too has its own unique sweet items to be served and shared with all loved ones. Wishing everyone a very Happy and Prosperous ‘Ugadi’. May this New Year bring peace, prosperity and happiness to all.