While states like Maharashtra, celebrate their Lunar New Year’s Day as Gudi Padwa, people of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana celebrate it as Ugadi. Ugadi is also known as ‘Chaitra Suddha Padhyami’.
The Lunar New Year's Day(Ugadi) varies every year as it begins on the first New Moon after the Spring Equinox. It generally falls between March/April of the Gregorian calendar.
The name Ugadi/Yugadi originated from the Sanskrit words; ‘Yuga’(age) and ‘Adi’(starting).
Ugadi celebrates the arrival of the spring season and signifies prosperity. As spring brings in new leaves, new buds, bright sunlight and nature seem to awaken from its long winter slumber, so does the festival signify the birth of a new era.
According to Hindu mythology, the creator of the world, Lord Brahma, started his creation on this day. Thus, Lord Brahma, is worshipped on this day along with Lord Vishnu, who is the creator of ‘Yugas’(Another name of Lord Vishnu is ‘Yugaadikrit’).
This day is considered very auspicious for starting any new venture or for making new investments.
Preparations for the festival start a week before. Thorough cleaning of the house is done. New clothes are bought for everyone in the family.
On the day of the festival; ladies of the house make a beautiful and colourful ‘rangoli’ at the entrance of the house. A ‘toran’ made of fresh mango leaves, is hung on the doorway to welcome the New year.
After taking a bath and before eating anything, it is considered auspicious to see one’s reflection in a bowl full of melted ghee. The elderly women of the house, then apply ‘kumkum’ on the foreheads of all family members. The idol of the Lord is given an oil bath and adorned with fresh clothes and garland made of white jasmine flowers. The entire family gets together to offer prayers.
It is customary to worship the ‘Panchang’ after the prayers are over. An elderly person from the house-hold reads out the ‘Panchang’ for everyone to hear.
The food that is prepared, is first offered to the Lord and later distributed as ‘prasad’ among all. Bevu Bella is offered to the Lord and then to every member of the family and also to any guest who comes visiting through the day.
Devotees visit the temple in the evening, to take the blessings of the Lord. The priest reads out the ‘Panchang’ for all to hear. This tradition is called ‘Panchanga Sravanam”. It is considered auspicious to hear the ‘Panchang’ read out by a learned priest.
Special traditional dishes are prepared on this auspicious day as an offering (Neivedyam) to the Lord before it is served to the others. Some of the popular dishes are ‘Pulihora’(a tangy, spicy rice dish), ‘Bobbatlu’(Sweet, Bengal gram-coconut filled dumpling), Sweet Pongal, Mango Pachdi, Moong dal Payasam, Kodhimbir vada etc.
One important ritual during the festival is preparing a special dish called the ‘Ugadi Pachadi’ or Bevu Bella. This dish has various flavours, signifying the different experiences one goes through life-
Jaggery(sweet), symbol for happiness; Tamarind(sour), symbol for challenges; Neem flowers(bitter), symbolising the difficulties of life; Raw mango(tangy), symbolising surprises and new challenges that crop up in life; chillis(spicy), symbolises anger; salt(salty)symbolises interesting things in life.