what is Ugadi?
Ugadi marks the beginning of a new Hindu lunar calendar. It is a day when mantras are chanted and predictions made for the new year. The most important thing in the festival is Panchanga Shravanam – hearing of the Panchanga. The Panchanga Shravanam is done at the temples by the priests. Before reading out the annual forecasts as predicted in the Panchanga, the officiating priest reminds the participants of the creator – Brahma, and the span of creation of the universe.
The reading of the Panchanga then involves reading of other Tidhis (wealth and prosperity) during the year and ends with h a forecast for various sectors of the social life and the strengths and effects of various constellations and their transitions. The scriptures state that the benefits reaped by the listener as well as the reader, are equivalent to having a dip in the holy river Ganges. The individuals hearing the Panchanga should respectfully ‘thank’ the reader and offer him new clothes and seek his blessings.
Preparations for the festival begin a week ahead. Houses are given a thorough wash. Shopping for new clothes and buying other items that go with the requirements of the festival are done with a lot of excitement. On Ugadi day, people wake up before the break of dawn and take a head bath. The bath is supposedly to be taken after massaging the entire body using sesame oil.
The next step is offer prayers to Sun, before accepting Vepapoota Pachadi (Neem Flower Pickle) on an empty stomach. Entrance of the houses are decorated with fresh mango leaves. It is noteworthy that we use mango leaves and coconuts (as in a Kalasam, to initiate any pooja) only on auspicious occasions to propitiate gods. People also splash fresh cow dung water on the ground in front of their house and draw colourful floral designs. This is a common sight in every household. People perform the ritualistic worship to God invoking his blessings before they start off with the new year.
In Andhra Pradesh, eatables such as pulihora, bobbatlu and preparations made with raw mango go well with the occasion. In Karnataka too, similar preparations are made but called puliogure and holige.
Ugadi — Significance and Kavi Samelan:
The celebration of Ugadi is marked by religious zeal and social merriment. It is believed that the creator of the World, Lord Brahma started creation on this day – Chaitra suddha padhyami or the Ugadi day. It is said that out of a hundred of Brahma’s ‘years’, fifty have already passed, and out the balance we are now at the fifty first year, first month, waxing phase, first day, thirteen hours, forty ghadiyas, three veesas and just over forty four viliptakalas. In solar year terms, about 432,000 years are considered equivalent to half a day of Brahma!
This also is a day when a new day and a new month of a new year, begin with the sunrise as per the calculations of the Great Indian Mathematician Bhaskaracharya. Symbolically, Ugadi signifies thanks giving to celebrate bounteous crops as well as signaling the end of an old era and the beginning of a new era.
Prayers for health, wealth and prosperity and success in business are part of the festival. Ugadi is considered the most auspicious time to start new ventures.
Joy, enthusiasm and gaiety are seen spread across all around in the air and social gatherings become a part and parcel of the celebrations.
Kavi Sammelanam (poetry recitation) is a typical Telugu Ugadi feature. Ugadi is also a time when people look forward to a literary feast in the form of Kavi Sammelanam. Many poets come up with new poems written on subjects ranging from Ugadi to politics to modern trends and lifestyle.
Ugadi Kavi Sammelanam is also a launch pad for new and budding poets. It is generally carried live on All India Radio`s Hyderabad “A” station and the Doordarshan, Hyderabad following “panchanga sravanam” (New year calendar) narrating the way the new year would shape up in the lives of people and the State in general. Kavis (poets) of many hues – political, comic, satirical reformist, literary and melancholic – make an appearance on the Ugadi stage.