Its NEW YEAR; Happy Gudi Padwa !!!

Gudhi Padva is the Marathi name for Chaitra Shukla Pratipada. It is celebrated on the first day of the Chaitramonth to mark the beginning of the New year according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar.This day is also the first day of Chaitra Navratri and Ghatasthapana also known as Kalash Sthapana is done on this day. The practice of raising the Gudhi was started by Shivaji Maharaj to welcome the new year and symbolizes victory “Vijay Dhwaj”. Since then this culture of raising Gudhi’s has been followed in and around the strong holds of the Maratha kingdom. Being the first day of the first month of a year, Gudhi Padwa is the New Year’s Day for Marathi people.

The word पाडवा comes from the sanskrit word पड्ड्वा/पाड्ड्वो(pāḍḍavā/pāḍḍavo), whichstands for the first day of the bright phase of the moon called प्रतिपदा (pratipadā) in Sanskrit. In south India, first day of the bright phase of the moon is called pāḍyaKnown as Guḍhī Pāḍavā (“Gudhee Paadavaa”) in Maharashtra, this festival is also known as Samvatsar Padvo among Hindu Konkanis of Goa and Konkani diaspora in Kerala, Yugadi among the rest of Konkani diaspora in Karnataka and Ugadi in Andhra pradesh and Navreh or Navreh amongst Kashmiri Pandits. In other parts of India this festival is celebrated during and Cheti Chand among the Sindhi people.

This new moon day has special meaning from Astronomy point of view. The Sun is supposed to be in first point of Aries, (Hamal) which is first sign of zodiac and is a natural beginning of spring. Many civilzations have known this. People of ancient Egypt knew this and Nowruz( literally “New Day” ) in Persia is also based on this observation. The Sun however may not be exactly in Aries due to Lunar month.This is adjusted by adding a “Adhik” (Literally an extra) Lunar month every three years to ensure New Year Day( “Gudhee Padwa”) indeed matches observed season. On this day, the sun assumes a position above the point of intersection of the equator and the meridians. According to the Hindu calendar, this marks the commencement of the Vasanta ritu or the spring season. It is one of the most famous harvesting festival in India.

India, being a predominantly agrarian society has celebrations and festivals are often linked to the turn of the season and to the sowing and reaping of crops. This day marks the end of one agricultural harvest and the beginning of a new one. In this context, the Gudhi Padwa is celebrated at the end of the Rabi season. Guḍhī Pāḍavā is one of the Saadhe-Teen Muhurta (translation from Marathi: 3 and a half auspicious days) in the Indian Lunar calendar. The full list is as follows –

On Guḍhī Pāḍavā, a gudhi is found sticking out of a window or otherwise prominently displayed in traditional Maharashtrian households. Bright green or yellow cloth adorned with brocade (zari) tied to the tip of a long bamboo over which gaathi (sugar crystals), neem leaves, a twig of mango leaves and a garland of red flowers is tied. A silver or copper pot is placed in the inverted position over it. Altogether, it is called as Gudhi. It is hoisted outside the house, in a window, terrace or a high place so that everybody can see it.

Some of the significances attributed to raising a Gudhi are as follows:

  • Maharashtrians also see the Gudhi as a symbol of victory associated with the conquests of the Maratha forces led by Chhatrapati Shivaji. It also symbolizes the victory of King Shalivahana over Sakas and was hoisted by his people when he returned to Paithan.
  • Gudhi symbolizes the Brahmadhvaj  mentioned in the Brahma Purana, because Lord Brahma created the universe on this day. It may also represent Indradhvaj
  • Mythologically, the Gudhi symbolizes Lord Rama’s victory and happiness on returning to Ayodhya after slaying Ravana. Since a symbol of victory is always held high, so is the gudhi (flag). It is believed that this festival is celebrated to commemorate the coronation of Rama post his return to Ayodhya after completing 14 years of exile.
  • Gudhi is believed to ward off evil, invite prosperity and good luck into the house.

The Gudhi is positioned on the right side of the main entrance of the house. The right side symbolizes active state of the soul.

On the festive day, courtyards in village houses will be swept clean and plastered with fresh cow-dung. Even in the city, people take the time out to do some spring cleaning. Women and children work on intricate rangoli designs on their doorsteps, the vibrant colours mirroring the burst of colour associated with spring. Everyone dresses up in new clothes and it is a time for family gatherings.

Sometimes, a paste of neem leaves is prepared and mixed with dhane, gul/gur (known as jaggery in English), and tamarind. All the members of the family consume this paste, which is believed to purify the blood and strengthen the body’s immune system against diseases.

Maharashtrian families also make shrikhand and Poori or Puran Poli on this day. Konkanis make Kanangachi Kheer, a variety of Kheer made of sweet potatococonut milkjaggery, rice flour, etc. and Sanna.

The Sindhis celebrate Cheti Chand on their New Year day Cheti Chand falls on on the first day of the month of Chaitra, also called ‘Cheti’ in Sindhi. This day is observed as the birthday of Jhulelal, the patron saint of the Sindhis. On this day, Sindhis worship Varuna, the water god and observe a number of rituals followed by feasts and devotional music, such as bhajans and aartis.

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