Ugadi or Yugadhi is the New Year celebrated in South India. Since Hindu calendar is based on the lunisolar calculations (based on waxing and waning of moon) the date of Ugadi celebration varies every year. The first day in the month of Chaitra, following the new moon day marks the New Year. It is also termed as Chaitra Shukla Pratipada.
In 2016, Ugadi falls on 8th April. The same day is observed as the Hindu New Year across India as Vikram Samvat Nav Varsh. It is celebrated as Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra, Navreh in Kashmir and Nav Varsh in many states of North India.
Hindus follow lunisolar calendar, based on which festivals are celebrated. It is directly linked with human body. Earth receives the highest amount of energy for the 21 days due to its change in position during the month of Chaitra. Although temperature soars during these days, it makes earth very energetic. The 21 days’ energy recharge begins from the first day of waxing moon, after the equinox.
Yugadhi or Ugadi?
The Term Yugadhi gradually transformed into Ugadi.
Yugadhi – Yuga (age) + Adhi (Beginning) represents beginning of new age.
The term specifically included ‘Kali Yuga’ the yuga (era) where we live now. According to ancient texts and puranas, Kali Yuga began when Lord Krishna left the world. Besides, it is also believed that Lord Brahma formed the world on this first day of the bright half of the Chaitra month. Ugadi generally falls between the second half of March to first half of April, every year.
While people in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana called it Ugadi, people in Karnataka refer to it as Yugadhi!
Who celebrates Ugadi?
Ugadi is generally celebrated by people in the Deccan region. It is more prevalent in the regions that lie between the Vindhya Mountain and Cauvery River. Typically, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa, Telengana and certain parts of Maharashtra celebrate Ugadi as their major festival. Although people in Tamilnadu celebrate Tamil New Year known as Puthandu, they also celebrate Ugadi.
How is Ugadi celebrated?
Being the most important festival of Telugu and Kannadas, the festivity mood begins early. People clean the homes, decorate the interiors and foster a festival spirit. Affluent people or those who can afford, paint their homes anew.
Homes are decorated on Ugadi
On the eve of new year, the home is decorated with flower garlands, beautiful rangoli at the door step, and in many other ways as desired by the family members.
A bunch of fresh leaves from the mango tree is placed on the entrance of the home. It is believed to attract a lot of positive energy.
Hanging mango leaves at the entrance of the home is a ritual practiced for ages. Mango leaves are considered holy ingredient. It is believed that Lord Muruga, the younger son of Shiv and Parvati, blesses those people who tie mango leaves at the entrance with good health, wellbeing and also abundance of cultivation. In most of the homes, these mango leaves decorate the entrance not only on the occasion of Ugadi but almost always. During festive occasions, fresh leaves are used.
Fresh mango leaves are tied in the morning after the sunrise on the day of New Year, Ugadi.
People start new ventures on Ugadi
Ugadi is considered an auspicious day to start new ventures.
In the early morning, the most senior woman of the family wakes up by 4.30 am. She melts ghee (clarified butter) and watches the reflection of her face in the melted ghee. All members in the family watch the reflection of their face in the melted ghee, which symbolizes good luck and fortune in the new year. The elderly woman applies kumkum (vermillion) to all members of the family and does arti before they all take bath. All members take oil bath on this day. All members in the family wake up early in the morning and take head bath before the sun rises.
- The spirit of the festival is depicted by the colorful decoration of the house, buying new clothes, and new things for home. It is a ritual to wear new dress on this auspicious day.
- However, in some of the families, elderly woman and married women in the family wear white silk sari with red border, particularly in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana region.
- Sweet smelling flowers are used for decoration of the Pooja room.
- A brass container (Pooja Kalasam) is decorated with turmeric and vermilion. It is filled with fresh water. A coconut is placed on the top of the container and decorated with mango leaves.
- Special Ugadi recipes are cooked and offered to the god.
- Almanac, fresh flowers, fruits, and even gold and silver coins (those who can afford this) are also placed as a part of offering.
- All members in the family gather in the Pooja room (or a common place, where the kalasam and other things are placed for offering) and take part in Pooja.
- After placing the special Ugadi recipes, arti is offered.
- After Pooja, the water in the kalasam is splashed all over the home (in all rooms) using mango leaves.
- Young ones seek blessings from elders.
- In some of the homes, people splash cow dung water at the entrance of the home, which is considered holy. In scientific context, cow dung is an anti-bacterial ingredient, which keeps the infections at bay!
Six Important Ingredients used for Ugadi Pooja
- Neem Leaves / Neem Flower – Bitterness, which signifies unhappiness / sadness
- Jaggery – Sweet, energetic and happiness
- Unripe Mango – Tangy with mild sweetness, representing a sweet surprise
- Fresh Tamarind (Spring is not just the season of mango, but also tamarind) – Sour, signifies disgusting feeling, dissatisfaction, etc.
- Crystal Salt – Salty, signifies fear and poor confidence
- Chili or Chili powder – Hot, signifies anger, frustration
All these ingredients carry the different flavors (taste), that tells life is filled with varied emotions, ups and downs.
Kanadas eat a pinch of jaggery with fresh neem leaves (baby leaves), which signifies that we should be prepared to manage the sweet-bitter life.
Ugadi Pachadi – the Major Ugadi Recipe
This is the special and authentic recipe of Ugadi. It is the onset of spring season when mangoes ripe and spread beautiful aroma all over. Jaggery is made from sugar cane and fresh jaggery is extracted during this season.
A pachadi is made with mango and jaggery. This pachadi has a lot of significance and is cooked as a part of many festivals.
For Ugadi Pachadi, a bit of salt, chilli powder, tamarind juice and dried neem flowers are added to this recipe, signifying six different flavors (sweet, sour,salt, pungent, spice and bitter) in a single recipe. In ancient days, people used to cook meal that consisted of all these six flavors, this ensured good health.
The pachadi is eaten first thing in the morning before eating anything, after completion of Pooja.
Ugadi Pachadi is called Bevu Bella in Kannada.
Ugadi Pachadi Recipe
- One raw mango (Peel the skin and shred the flesh)
- 2 or 3 teaspoons of jaggery
- 2 or 3 teaspoons of tamarind extract
- A pinch of salt
- A pinch of chili powder
- 1 teaspoon Dried neem flowers
Grind all ingredients (except neem flowers) and make it a paste. Add the neem flowers as topping to the paste.
Other Ugadi Recipes
Food is what gives festivals a fresh flavor! Festivals and religious ceremonies in Hinduism are connected with special recipes. These recipes symbolize the importance of the celebration, associates with the lord of the festival, signifies the goodness, and so on.
- Pulihora – Rice cooked in spiced tamarind gravy / freshly cooked rice mixed with tempered and spiced tamarind paste
- Sweet Pongal – Rice cooked in jaggery and tempered with ghee and nuts.
- Puran Poli – Sweet flatbread (sweet roti) filled with jaggery and coconut paste or jaggery and lentils paste.
- Ugadi Pachadi – made with raw mango and jaggery along with salt, chili, neem flowers
- Sweet Kheer made with jaggery and coconut
In addition, many special and rich delicacies are cooked as Ugadi feast.
Ugadi is a regional holiday in the souther part of India where it is one of the most important festivals!