Gudi Padwa

There are many states in India, but one that is true to its name in terms of culture, heritage, tradition and history is the Maharashtra State. It was ruled by the great Maratha Ruler of all times Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. This state celebrates many age-old traditions. The best example is the festival of Gudi Padwa. It is special for the people of Maharashtra as it marks the beginning of a new year. It is celebrated to welcome the harvest and the victory of Shivaji Maharaj over his enemies.

Gudi Padwa Festival

Gudi Padwa comes in the month of Chaitra. Being a Hindu festival, it is observed according to the Hindu lunar calendar. Hence, the first day of the Chaitra month is marked for this auspicious day which happens to fall either in the last week of March or the first week of April. This period is the beginning of Vasant or spring. From this day, the Maharashtrian new year starts. People wish friends, relatives and family members on this day.

Legend of Gudi Padwa

India has been celebrating special events from the earliest period which connects with the mythological stories. Some historians believe that the universe came into existence on this day taking references from the Brahma Purana. Others believe that on this day, Lord Rama killed King Vali. It is also said that Lord Vishnu bears the life of matsya (fish). Some regard this day as the period of justice and truth. For Maharashtrian, this day is to honour the pride and glory of being a native of this fabulous state. This day is considered auspicious because of the victory of Sakas over the Huns.

This festival is also celebrated with another name in the southern region of India. It is called as Ugadi and is observed on the first day of the Chaitra month. In Karnataka, it is celebrated as Yugadi. People of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka enjoy this day because of the harvest and the start of the spring season. As for the name of the festival in Maharashtra is concerned, the word 'padwa' is derived from a Prakit word called paddava. As per the etymology of this word in Sanskrit language, it means the first day of the bright moon.

Gudi Padwa Celebration

This festival is celebrated throughout Maharashtra in villages, and cities. The tradition and the custom followed are the same. Houses in villages will be cleaned. The front open area of houses will be covered with a paste of cow dung. The city houses will also receive a facelift on this day. People start their day by applying oil to their body before the bath. It is a ritual and is essential before performing the pooja. Women will then draw intricate designs with rangoli (sand powder) in front of the entrance door. The frame of the door will be covered with a garland made of flowers, mango and neem leaves. All the family members will assemble in pooja ghar and offer prayer to Brahma Dev. A fragrant plant which is known as davna is offered to the god. After prayer, a havan is conducted by calling a priest. The priest chant mantras and people make offerings to the god by pouring it into the fire. It is compulsory to eat prasad made from the leaves of the neem tree. The leaves are crushed and mixed with jaggery and tamarind to reduce its bitterness.

After pooja and rituals are performed, it is considered auspicious to listen to the chart or the panchank (almanac) that covers the information of the year. Lending a patience ear to the description of the coming year is symbolic of taking a bath in the holy river. When everything is finished, people leave their home to donate clothes, money, food or grains to the poor and needy. The rest of the day is then spent by taking blessing from elders.

All the houses will bear a typical look during the festival. The common look is because of the Gudi, a stick which is hoisted at the top of the house with an inverted Kalash, a flower garland, a piece of yellow or red cloth or a saree along with a few mangoes and neem leaves. The inverted Kalash is of brass or copper. This Gudi symbolizes the victory of Shivaji Maharaj to establish Swarajya. It also symbolizes the victory and returning of Lord Ram to Ayodhya. Another interesting reason behind hoisting it is the belief of warding off evil. It is also believed that prosperity and good luck enter into the house where it is hoisted.

The Gudi Padwa festival celebration is not complete without cooking delicious meal. In Maharashtra, people cook puran poli, puri and kheer. The kheer is made of vermicelli, coconut milk, jaggery or sweet potato. Plain rice, two or three vegetables and shrikhand are also included in the meal.