Ugadi Celebrations: March 18 2018, Sunday
Ugadi (Ugādi, Samvatsarādi, Yugadi) is the New Year’s Day for the Hindus of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana states in India. The name Yugadi or Ugadi is derived from the Sanskrit words Yuga (age) and Adi (beginning): “the beginning of a new age”. Yugadi or Ugadi falls on “Chaitra Shudhdha Paadyami” or the first day of the bright half of the Indian month of Chaitra. This generally falls in late March or early April of the Gregorian calendar.
The people of Telangana state and Andhra Pradesh use the term Ugadi (ఉగాది), Karnataka use the term Yugadi (ಯುಗಾದಿ) and Maharashtra use the term ‘Gudi Padwa’ for this festival.
According to popular beliefs, legend has it that Lord Brahma began the creation of the universe on the Ugadi day. He then went on to create days, weeks, months, and years in order to keep track of time. Thus, Ugadi is believed to be the first day of the creation of the universe.
As per the lunisolar calendar, Ugadi marks the day on which a new astronomical cycle gets into motion. The tilt of the earth enables the northern hemisphere to receive the maximum amount of sunlight for a period of 21 days that starts on the Ugadi day. It signifies a period when the earth starts to recharge itself for a new beginning with the help of Sun’s energy. Ugadi marks the start of the earth’s energising period.
Ugadi marks the regeneration of Mother Nature. With the advent of spring, Mother Nature wakes up from her reverie and gives birth to new shoots, leaves, and plants. A blanket of greenery starts to cover the earth and everything in nature seems to adorn a new look. The spring festival of Vasanta Navratri also commences on this day and continues for nine days before concluding on Ram Navami.
On the occasion of Ugadi, people lay emphasis on preparing a special dish called Bevu Bella or Ugadi Pachhadi that incorporates the six different and distinct flavours of life through its six ingredients. Each ingredient in this dish signifies a different taste:
• Neem flowers are for bitter taste that symbolises the difficulties in life
• Tamarind is for sour taste that symbolises challenges
• Chilli powder is for spicy taste that symbolises angry or upsetting moments
• Unripe mango is for tangy taste that symbolises surprises
• Salt is for salty taste that symbolises interest in life
• Jaggery is for sweet taste that symbolises happiness
So, the dish has all the flavours, starting from bitterness and ending in sweetness. Bevu Bella or Ugadi Pachhadi denotes that life is a mixture of different experiences, emotions, and events that one must learn to face bravely. It is the first dish to be had on the Ugadi day. The occasion is all about leaving behind the past and starting a new with fresh expectations and a positive frame of mind. Ugadi not only signifies the start of a new year, it also signifies the beginning of a new phase in a person’s life.
Another important aspect of the occasion is the Panchanga Shravanam or hearing of the Panchanga. It is read by the priests at the temples or by the eldest member of the family at home. On this day, based on the moon sign, predictions and annual forecasts for the New Year are also made by the learned pandits and astrologers.
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Said, “Today is Ugadi, the beginning of the New Year. Since ancient times, man has celebrated many Ugadis, but he is yet to give up bad qualities. True Ugadi is the day when man gives up bad qualities, fills his heart with love and takes to the path of sacrifice. Do not limit the celebration of Ugadi to merely putting on new clothes and partaking of delicious items. Today you may wear a new shirt, but how long will it remain new. Tomorrow it becomes old. Nobody reads the same newspaper everyday. Today’s newspaper becomes a waste paper tomorrow. Our life is like a newspaper. Once you have finished reading a newspaper, you do not like to read it again and again. You have been given this birth which is like a newspaper, and have gone through varied experiences of pleasure and pain. Enough is enough. Do not ask for one more newspaper, i.e., another birth. You should pray, “Oh God! You have given me this ‘newspaper’ and I have gone through the experiences of this life. I don’t want to have another birth.
On this day of Ugadi, take a firm resolve to purify your heart. Past is past. It cannot be retrieved. When you are walking on the road, you should look at the path ahead of you. What is the point in looking behind? Likewise, there is no point in brooding over the past. Future is not certain. What is the guarantee that you will be alive until tomorrow? So, do not worry about your future. Live in the present. It is not ordinary present. It is omnipresent, meaning the results of past as well as the future are contained in it. So, when you make proper use of the present, you can be rest assured that your future is safe and secure”.
Thus, the festival is celebrated to welcome a new start in life every year with the expectations of happiness, well-being, growth, prosperity, filling the heart with love and taking the path of sacrifice to realise the Divinity within.