Ugadi, or more appropriately, Yugadi, is formed by the joining of two words – yuga (age) and adi (beginning). It is the New Year’s Day for the people of the Deccan region of India. It marks the first day of the month of Chaitra (March- April), which is the first month according to the Indian calendar.
In Andhra and Karnataka, the day is termed Yugadi/Ugadi. In Maharashtra the same day is observed as Gudi Padva. Sindhis celebrate Cheti Chand, Manipuris call it Sajibu Cheiroba, and the Punjabis call it Baisakhi.
The Kannada, Marathi, Telugu and the Konkani communities in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, TamilNadu and Kerala celebrate the festival with great fanfare; gatherings of the extended family and a sumptuous feast are ‘de rigueur’. The day, begins with ritual showers (oil bath) followed by prayers.
One particular dish of a quaint mixture of tastes is an integral part of the feast.
The special mixture consists of ingredients that have strong flavours, symbolising the various human emotions. It is believed that this is a reminder that the year ahead is likely to bring with it a number of circumstances which will be accompanied by some of these emotions at all times, but we pray for the strength to meet all these with equanimity – tide over the difficult times with forbearance and celebrate the good times with gratitude.
The ‘pachadi’ consists of:
- Neem Buds/Flowers for its bitterness – sorrow
- Jaggery and ripe banana pieces for sweetness – Happiness
- Green Chilli/Pepper for its hot taste – Anger
- Salt for saltiness – Fear
- Tamarind Juice for its sourness – Disgust
- Unripened Mango for its tang – Surprise
Sometime during the day, people traditionally gather to listen to the recitation of the religious Panchangam (almanac) of the new year, and the general forecast of the year to come. This is called the ‘Panchanga Sravanam‘, an informal social function where an elderly and respected person refers to the new almanac and makes a general benediction to all present.
When you meet any Telugu people and want to wish them for Telugu New Year, you say “Ugadi Shubhakankshalu –
In Kannada, the greeting would be “Yugadi Habbada Shubhashayagalu” – (Greetings for the festival of Yugadi) or “Hosa varshada shubhashayagalu” – (Greetings on the new year).
In Konkani, it would be Navve varsache shubhashyay, Samvatsar padvyachi shubheccha.
In Marathi, it would be Gudhi padvyachya hardik shubhechcha.