Predominantly celebrated in the state of Maharashtra, Gudi Padwa marks the beginning of the harvest season. The day is celebrated as New Year’s Day for the people of Maharashtra, as per the lunisolar Hindu calendar. The phrase “Gudi Padwa” is coined from two words—Gudi meaning Brahma’s flag and Padwa, Padva or Paddava meaning the first day of the bright phase of the moon.
Gudi Padwa is celebrated on the first day of the month of Chaitra as per the Hindu lunisolar calendar, which usually falls between March and April as per the Gregorian calendar.The festival will be celebrated on the 25th of March 2020.
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The myth behind Gudi Padwa
There are many stories and mythological references to Gudi Padwa. In Brahma Purana, one of the sacred Hindu scriptures, it’s mentioned that Lord Brahma recreated the world after a natural calamity left all the people dead and stopped time. On this day, following Brahma’s efforts, time restarted, and the era of justice and truth began. For this reason Lord Brahma is worshipped on this day.
Another story says that Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya with Sita and Laxman after living 14 years in exile. The day celebrates Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana. Hence, Gudi or Brahma’s flag is hoisted in households like how it was hoisted in Ayodhya as a victory flag (as per the myth) after Rama’s victory over Ravana.
However, there’s another historical significance of Gudi. History beckons that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj defeated the Mughals and freed the people of the state from the Mughal rule. This is one of the major reasons why people of Maharashtra hoist Gudi on this day. It’s believed that the flag wards off any kind of evil from entering the premises of houses.
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How is Gudi Padwa celebrated?
As the festival primarily celebrates welcoming the coming year afresh, people clean their houses and courtyards to keep everything neat and tidy. A customary oil-bath is a must on this day. Women decorate the entrance doors with “Rangolis” of different patterns and colours. Wearing new clothes, especially kurta-pajamas and sarees forms an integral part of the custom.
Probably the most important part of the festival is the hoisting of Gudi. After the Gudi is hoisted, people form a human pyramid to reach the Gudi and break the coconut that’s inside it. It’s an important ritual of the festival and is followed almost everywhere in Maharashtra. Only men and adolescent boys are allowed to take part in this ritual.
Another ritual is to consume Neem leaves, a custom that marks the beginning of the festival. The leaves can be eaten raw or can be prepared as a chutney by grinding it and then mixing jaggery and other seeds with it. Other dishes that are prepared on this day are Shrikhand—a sweet that’s consumed with Poori, Pooran Poli, Chana, and Soonth Panak.
So, you can be a part of this festival too if you are in Maharashtra. A variety of traditional food, especially sweets, are prepared on this day. The festival is also celebrated in other parts of India in the form of Ugadi (Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana), Bihu (Assam), and Poila Boishakh (West Bengal).
Interesting Facts About Gudi Padwa
- Rangoli is a significant aspect of Gudi Padwa and the streets are full of such Rangolis as people celebrate Gudi Padwa with much a lot of enthusiasm.
- People of western Maharashtra dress in traditional attire and perform dances during the procession celebrating Gudi Padwa or the onset of the new year.
- Women folks flood the streets dressed in vibrant and colourful attire to commemorate the region’s rich culture and history.
- The festival also marks the victory of good over evil as Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravan.
- Gudi Padwa is celebrated with preparation and sharing sweets such as shrikhand, puri and puran poli. Konkanis prepare dishes such as Kanangachi kheer – an Indian sweet dessert made of sweet potato, coconut milk, rice and jaggery.
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The Significance of Gudi Padwa
- It’s believed that by hoisting the Gudi at home, can keep evil spirits away and bring luck and prosperity to your life.
- Gudi Padwa signifies the victory of good over evil as it commemorates Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana.
- The day is also the start of the spring season and considered as the harvest festival.
- The festival is also known by different names in different other states such as Samvatsar Padvo, Ugadi, Yugadi, Cheti Chand or Navreh. In the northeastern state of Manipur, it’s known as Sajibu Nongma Panba Cheiraoba.
- Many consider this day as auspicious to buy gold or a new vehicle.
Rituals of Gudi Padwa
- Colourful rangolis are drawn at the entrance of the house and the flag or Gudi is hoisted at the front of the house.
- On the flag, yellow silk adornments along with flowers and mango tree leaves are decorated.
- The day is marked with auspicious Swastika with turmeric and vermillion and candles are lit.
- Serve water to the needy.
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