India is a country rich in culture, food, festivals and languages. It is the festivals and joy of the Indian People that bless the subcontinent with its unique features and harmony. India finds its happiness and uniqueness in its diversity. Festivals bring families and friends together and enhance the glee of sharing and love.
When it comes to the New Year, we generally think of 1st January. But Interestingly, 1st January is not the only time that India ushers in a fresh year and a new beginning. The different states, ethnicities and religions of India celebrate a separate new year at various times of the year.
One such festival is the Gudi Padwa. It is a popular festival in Maharashtra and Goa. The Gudi Padwa festival marks the beginning of the Marathi New Year. It is a spring festival that is celebrated as a harvest festival. It falls on the first day of the Chaitra month of the Luni-solar Hindu calendar.
Gudi Padwa derives its name from the words ‘gudi’, which implies a flag or the emblem of Lord Brahma and ‘padwa’ which refers to the first day of the full moon phase. The people of Maharashtra and Goa and all Marathis throughout the world would be observing Gudi Padwa on 2nd April 2022.
Several stories establish the importance of Gudi Padwa. If you are wondering why we celebrate Gudi Padwa, here are some interesting stories that we have accumulated. These will give you an insight into the Gudi Padwa history.
Gudi Padwa is a harvest festival that ushers in the season of Spring. It marks the transition from winter to spring. The festival declares that the rabi crops have concluded for the season. It is also the time when farmers reap mangoes and other tropical fruits.
It is also believed that the inception of the Gudi Padwa festival had occurred through the great Maratha warrior, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja. It is observed in the celebration and honour of his victory march, thereby giving rise to the tradition of raising the Gudi or flag.
According to old legends, it is regarded that on the occasion of Gudi Padwa, Lord Brahma had created the universe. It is on this day of Gudi Padwa, He established days, weeks, months and years.
Another legend states that the triumph of King Shalivahana is celebrated on the day of the Gudi Padwa festival since his people had hoisted the Gudi or flag with his return to Paithan.
It is also believed that on Gudi Padwa, Lord Rama had defeated Ravana and returned to his kingdom Ayodhya. It commemorates Lord Rama’s coronation day in Ayodhya.
1. As mentioned above, the festival of Gudi Padwa was started by the legendary Marathi warrior, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja. Since then the festival has been celebrated in every Marathi Household. The Spring festival of Gudi Padwa will be observed on 2nd April 2022 this year to mark the first day of the Marathi Hindu New Year as per the Hindu calendar.
2. Although Gudi Padwa is widely and predominantly celebrated among the people of Maharashtra and Goa, it also finds an audience in the other states of the country, where it is known by different names. In the state of Andhra Pradesh, it is known as Ugadi, Karnataka calls it Yugadi and Sajibu Nongma Panba Cheiraoba in Manipur. This day is celebrated as Cheti Chand in the Sindhi community of India. It marks the emergence day of their revered Lord Jhulelaal. Prayers are offered to Him and delicacies such as Tehri (sweet rice) and Saai Bhaaji (spinach cooked in lentil soup) are cooked.
3. The Gudi is placed at the entrance of every Marathi house on this day. How is it made? The Gudi Padwa festival gets its name from Gudi, which is a type of flag. You have to tie a piece of clean and bright fabric around a bamboo stick. The stick is usually about 5 feet long. The zari or brocade work on the fabric enhances its beautiful appearance. Neem leaves, a twig of mango leaves, a festoon of red blooms and a garland made of sugar candy are placed on top of it. The stick is placed on an inverted silver, copper or bronze pot.
4. The Gudi symbolises the victory of good over evil. Many hold the belief that placing the Gudi at the entrance or passage of one’s house will ward off evil and invite prosperity. Once the Gudi is placed, families offer prayers and consume the prasad made of neem leaves and jaggery.
5. No festival is complete without its amazing delicacies. Food is an integral part of every Indian festival. On the occasion of Gudi Padwa, Maharashtrians prepare their traditional food items, such as Shrikhand, Puri and Puran Poli. The Konkanis, on the other hand, associate the festival with delicacies like Kanangachi Kheer. It is a sweet dish made of sweet potato, jaggery, coconut drain and rice.
The celebrations of Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra are accompanied by magnificent pomp and show. On this day, people wake up early in the morning. Thereafter, they clean their houses and take a bath. New clothes are worn and temples are visited to offer prayers. The floor near the front gate of the house is decorated with beautiful rangoli designs, using coloured powder and flower petals. The interior of the houses is decorated with flowers and torans are hung at the doors. These practices are believed to generate positivity.
The Gudi is worshipped to mark the arrival of the new year and the Gudi Padwa prasad is prepared and consumed. The prasad incorporates neem leaves, tamarind, and jaggery to render a bitter-sweet taste to it. This unique prasad is symbolic of the journey of life, which comes with its fair share of happiness and grief. It is also considered to purify the blood and enhance body immunity.
Families prepare a delicious spread that includes Puran Poli and Shrikhand. A lot of people resort to purchasing gold or precious gems, a new vehicle or some other luxurious item on Gudi Padwa since it is considered to promote good fortune and prosperity.
Last but not the least, street processions, also known as the Prabhat Pheri, are held throughout the streets of Maharashtra on the day of the Gudi Padwa festival. It is often accompanied by dance and food festivals. Many Marathi women and men in traditional attire, tie a saffron piece of cloth around their heads, called the turban, during the processions of Prabhat Pheri.