It’s the onset of summer and one of my festivals is here! As a child, I have loved Gudi Padwa and now as a parent, I want my kids to understand the essence behind it and find ways to create excitement, togetherness, love and joy among family members and esp our children.
Since the festival brings in a New Year filled with auspicious good luck and positivity, let us also pray for a new era free from this rampant pandemic and like all Indian festivals, this one too should ward off the evil.
What are the different names of this New Year?
The festival welcomes spring and is celebrated in different parts of India under different names. In Maharashtra, it is known as Gudi Padwa.
It is known as Sanvsar Padvo in Konkani, Ugadi in Karnataka, Cheti Chand in Sindhis, Navreh by Kashmiri Pandits and Sajibu Nongma Panba Cheiraoba in Manipur.
This year it falls on Saturday, April 2nd, 2022.
But, how many New Years are there?
Gudi Padwa is celebrated as the first day of the Chaitra month according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar. It falls on the first day on which the moon appears after a new-moon day (Amavasya). It marks the beginning of the New Year for many Hindus. However, some Hindus celebrate different days as their New Year. For Gujratis, the New Year falls during Diwali and for some, it is during Vaishakhi (as per the solar cycle of the lunisolar Hindu calendar). For some, it also marks the beginning of the spring Navratri.
What is the mythological story behind it?
The significance of this festival is mentioned in the Bramha Purana which is considered the most ancient text in history. It is believed that many many years ago there was a great deluge on Earth. Time had stopped and every living being and every aspect of nature was destroyed. It is said that on this day Lord Brahma started to create a New World. On Gudi Padwa, time started again and it hailed a new era of truth and justice also known as Satyug.
Hence on Gudi Padwa, Lord Bramha is worshipped.
What do the words “Gudi Padwa” and “Ugadi” mean?
“Gudi” is the word used the refer to Bramha’s flag or Brahma-dhvaj which is hoisted on this day. “Padwa” comes from the Sanskrit word Paddava or Paddavo which refers to the first day of the bright phase of the moon. “Ugadi” literally means “Aadi” or the beginning.
Is there another mythology tale behind Gudi Padwa?
Yes, there is. It is also said the this was the day Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after 14 years in exile. The day marks his coronation as the King. The “Gudi” is hoisted at the entrance of the household, in commemoration of the “Gudi” that was hoisted in Ayodhya as a victory flag for Lord Rama.
Who started the tradition of hoisting the “Gudi”?
It is said the tradition of hoisting a “Gudi” or Victory flag was first started by celebrated warrior Shivaji Maharaj. It is said that he started it to celebrate victory in war. It is now followed in every Maharashtrian household.
So, how is this victory flag or “Gudi” made?
To assemble a “Gudi”, a long bamboo stick about 4 to 5 feet long, a kalash or copper pot, a piece of fresh unused cloth or a saree, a garland made from sugar candy garland (gathi chi maal or batasha haar) and neem leaves are used.
The cloth is tied to one end of the bamboo stick. The neem and sugar candy are fixed to it. Some people also add mango leaves and a garland made with it. Neem leaves are used for purification while the mango leaves signify a new beginning. Now the inverted pot is placed on the cloth. The symbol of swastika is drawn on it with kumkum.
The “Gudi” is placed slightly tilted on the right side of the entrance of the house or window. Family members do puja and offer bhog to the “Gudi”. The puja gets completed the next day when family members drink the water from the inverted pot. It signifies warding off the evil and bringing in good luck and positivity.
Is there a scientific reason behind this ritual?
Just like every Indian festival, each element of the “Gudi” too has its own hidden scientific reasons.
At the outset, an inverted pot is placed on the very top and is hoisted the night before. This is done so that the rays of the sun hit the pot the first thing in the morning, and thus bring in positive energy into the household. The pot is later used by the family members to drink water, and we all know the immense benefits of drinking water from a copper pot.
It also marks the end of the harvest season and starts a new crop season. The cloth (traditionally green in colour) represents earth and that the new harvest season will bring an abundant supply of grains and prosperity in the household. Being a new piece of cloth, it emits freshness and positivity.
The mango leaves are used as they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen thus cleaning the surrounding atmosphere. Neem leaves are used as they release maximum oxygen and also have anti-bacterial properties. This festival time, all family members and friends gather under one roof. So these leaves are used to create a maximum circulation of fresh air, maintain the optimal cooling room temperature and lastly purify the atmosphere from bacteria.
The sweet candy or shakar gaathi is a traditional sweet made from sugar and jaggery. Along with decorating the ‘gudi’, it is also eaten and has many health benefits. The “Gudi” is hoisted on a stick outside the house. Why? It is very simple. It represents the flag of victory. As the symbol of victory is always held high, so is the “Gudi”.