Ugadi Festival/Yugadi/Telugu New Year
Ugadi is a Hindu festival, celebrated in the south Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Telangana. The festival marks the beginning of a new Hindu calendar year and is celebrated on the first day of “Chaitra” month, which falls in the months of March-April as per the Gregorian calendar.
The festivities of Ugadi coincide with “Chaitra Navratri” celebrated in north Indian states and “Gudi Padwa” celebrated in the central state of Maharashtra. The festival is called “Ugadi” in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, while in Karnataka it is called “Yugadi”.
Ugadi is celebrated with much festive fervor and enthusiasm by the people. It holds cultural, religious as well as the astronomical significance and also heralds the beginning of a new era and harvest season as its name suggests.
The name Yugadi is formed by combining two Sanskrit words “Yuga” and “Adi”. Yuga means age and adi means beginning. “Yugadi” therefore implies – the beginning of a new age. There are various other names of Ugadi/Yugadi like – “Chaitra Shudhdha Paadyami”, “Chandramana Varsha Thodaku”, “Chandramana Ugadi” and “Vatsara Arambha”.
Ugadi/Yugadi Festival 2019
Ugadi or Yugadi this year will be celebrated on Saturday, 6th April 2019.
When is Ugadi/Yugadi Celebrated?
The festival of Ugadi/Yugadi is celebrated on the first day of Chaitra month of the Hindu Lunisolar calendar and marks the beginning of a new year. The festival falls on the first bright half-day of the Hindu Lunisolar calendar month of Chaitra; therefore, it is also called “Chaitra Shudhdha Paadyami” which translates to – the day after the new moon of “Chaitra”. As per the Gregorian calendar, the festival usually falls in the month of March – April. Ugadi also marks the beginning of the spring season as earth receives the highest amount of solar energy on Ugadi/Yugadi day.
Mythological Story of Ugadi
Hindus believe that Ugadi is the day when Lord Brahma created the universe. As per the legend, a demon named Somakasura hid the Vedas into a sea after stealing them from Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma requested Lord Vishnu to intervene and get the sacred texts back from Somakasura.
Lord Vishnu reincarnated himself as a fish, known as “Matsya Avatar” and killed the demon Somakasura, handing over the Vedas to Lord Brahma. Subsequently, Brahma started creating the world on Ugadi or Yugadi. The word “Yugadi” is translated to – beginning of a new era or age.
People believe that every year is equivalent to a single day to Brahma. They believe that Lord Brahma writes the fate of every individual as well as the earth on the day of Ugadi/Yugadi. Even though Brahma had been cursed by Lord Shiva that he will not be worshiped by humankind; still, in the festival of Ugadi people acknowledge his efforts in creating the universe and writing its fate.
History of Ugadi/Yugadi Festival
Historical evidence suggests that the festival of Ugadi is being celebrated since the days of Mahabharata. Evidence suggests that in ancient times the festival of Ugadi was celebrated on the next day of Makara Sankranti but not in the month of Chaitra as per modern custom.
The lunisolar calendar itself was prepared by King Shalivahana in 78 BCE and the latter is also called Gautamiputra Satakarni and held responsible for the beginning of the Shalivahana era.
Many ancient texts have reference to the festival of Ugadi, like “Jayasimhakalpadruma” and “Purusarthachintamani”; the former was written by King Jayasimha of Mathura around 1713 giving detail on how Indian festivals are celebrated.
Modern and Ancient Traditions
The festival of Ugadi is being celebrated for ages and there have also been a few significant changes in the customs and rituals. As the festival marks the advent of summer, in older days, people used to dispense water for the benefit of others. But, this custom is not followed in modern days as the water is readily available throughout the year.
In ancient days people relied hugely on the Panchanga forecasts, to start a new venture or to sow the crops in the fields. These days, people do hear the panchanga but don’t depend much on it for their future endeavors as they have other resources like the meteorological department.
The importance of neem leaf has remained the same in both ancient and modern celebrations. The ancient text of “Samrajyalakshmipithika” mentions that it was customary for the kings to pray to their deities on the first day of Ugadi. During the worship, the kings kept neem leaves and jaggery on their head and it was to be consumed as Prasad by the family members. The custom of eating neem leaves with jaggery on Ugadi is still followed by many people.
Significance of Ugadi/Yugadi Festival
- Religious Significance of Ugadi/Yugadi Festival
The festival of Ugadi holds much religious significance for the people of south Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Karnataka. They believe that it is on this day that Lord Brahma created the universe and wrote the fate of every living being. Hindus believe that Lord Brahma was created by Lord Vishnu; therefore, the latter is also called “Yugadikrit” which translates to – the creator of a new age. Therefore, Ugadi is a festival to acknowledge the efforts of Brahma and also to commemorate Lord Vishnu as “Yugadikrit”.
- Celestial Significance of Ugadi/Yugadi Festival
The festival of Ugadi is celebrated coinciding with a new astronomical cycle. On the day of Ugadi the axis of earth is tilted in such a way that the northern hemisphere receives the maximum energy from sun for a period of 21 days, beginning from the day of Ugadi. It is like the earth recharges itself for a new beginning. Ugadi is celebrated the next day of “Amavasya” (dark moon) and heralds the beginning of a new moon. It is also the day when the earth completes one full revolution around the sun.
- Natural Significance of Ugadi/Yugadi
The festival of Yugadi marks the beginning of the spring season. From the day of Yugadi earth starts rejuvenating herself. Trees and plants shed their old leaves to make way for new and greener ones. Earth seems to be covered with a blanket of green and adorned with everything new and green. Ugadi also marks the beginning of spring season and everything on earth gets a new life.
- Cultural Significance of Ugadi/Yugadi
The festival of Ugadi is being celebrated since ancient times and reflects the culture and beliefs of the people. Rituals associated with Ugadi have cultural as well as psychological significance. Also, a special dish “Pachadi” which is prepared on Ugadi manifests the people’s belief about life and also reflects their culture. Pachadi is prepared to combine six different tastes – sweet, bitter, hot, salty, tangy and sour. Different tastes represent different emotions – sweet represents happiness; bitter represents sadness; hot represents anger; salt represents fear; tangy represents surprise and sour represents disgust. Therefore, Pachadi in a way resembles life which is a combination of happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and surprise.
How is Ugadi/Yugadi Festival Celebrated
Like the other Hindu festivals, Ugadi also begins with the cleaning of houses, decoration of temples and deities before the advent of Chaitra month.
People get up early morning and bathe in sesame oil or castor oil before taking water bath. The custom of the oil bath is to prepare the body for the oncoming heat of the spring season. In older years, whenever permissible there was a custom of taking oil bath and bathing in holy river Ganges. People believed that taking oil bath and bathing in Ganga, invokes the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Ganga respectively.
It is a common sight to see the entrances of the houses adorned with fresh mango leaves. Mango leaves provide a cool atmosphere and calm down the heat. Entrances in village houses are also covered with cow dung after a thorough cleaning with water. Hindus believe cow dung to be pure and a disinfectant. Even the idols of Gods are bathed with oil and water. Rangolis too adorn the entrance of almost every household in southern India on Ugadi.
People wear new clothes resembling a new beginning in their lives; they also resolve to leave their evil deeds and thoughts behind and start afresh. It is a general belief that if the festival of Ugadi is celebrated following complete rituals and traditions, then the whole year will be filled with happiness and growth.
After bathing and wearing on new clothes, people worship their revered Gods seeking spiritual awakening, peace and prosperity. The day is also considered auspicious for starting up a new venture.
Many delicious dishes are prepared on Ugadi. Dishes like Pulihora, Pachadi, and Bobbatlu are quite popular among people. Pachadi is prepared with ingredients like raw mango, neem, jaggery and tamarind, giving it a mix taste of sweet, sour, tangy, bitter, hot and salty. It implies all the emotions of life – happiness, disgust, surprise, sadness, anger and fear.
One of the attractions of Ugadi is “Panchanga Shravanam”; a custom in which people gather to hear the forecast of the New Year. The forecast is made about the rain and harvest all through the year.
Ugadi is celebrated as Gudi Padwa in the state of Maharashtra and almost the same rituals are followed except few changes in the local cuisines.