Gudi Padwa is an auspicious Hindu festival and is very significant among the Marathi Hindus as it is the traditional New Year. It is celebrated with much enthusiasm in Maharashtra and other parts of India and is a spring festival which falls in March or April. The word ‘Padwa’ is derived from the Sanskrit word Pratipada and signifies the first day of the lunar fortnight.
Significance of Gudi Padwa
As Gudi Padwa is the traditional New Year, it signifies hope and optimism. It celebrates the welcoming of spring season and fruitfulness as on this day the position of the Sun is above the point of intersection of the equator, which according to the Hindu calendar marks the commencement of the Spring Season. The festival is a harvest festival and has many names across the country such as Ugadi in Telugu, Yugadi in Kannada, Cheti Chand in Sindhi and Navreh in Kashmiri.
According to some legends, the day is significant because, on this day, the universe was created by Lord Brahma which is also mentioned in Brahma Puran. The Satyayug commenced from this day after the creation of the universe. Mythologically, this day celebrates the defeat of Ravana by Rama and his happy returning to Ayodhya. Another historical event associated with Gudi Parwa is the victory of the Sakas over the Huns. It was Chhatrapati Shivaji, the great Maratha ruler, who initiated this practice of Gudi display and celebrated the festival. Since then the festival is celebrated in nearly every Marathi household.
Gudi is a stick covered by a bright coloured cloth which is decorated with the first bloom of fresh mango leaves. Other things like sugar crystals, neem leaves, mango leaves and a garland of red coloured flowers are also bundled up inside the cloth. A silver or copper pot is placed in the inverted position over the stick and the cloth which together forms a Gudi. The Gudi is placed on the right side at a high position outside the house where everyone can see it. It symbolises a victory against evil, good luck, and prosperity. Bright flowers of red and yellow colour are used, and Rangoli is also made to decorate the entrance area.
Celebrations of Gudi Parwa
As no celebration is complete without exceptional food, Gudi Padwa is no exception. The day is celebrated with full zeal and enthusiasm. Dishes like Puran Poli and Kanangachi Kheer are prepared on this day. People wear new clothes and exchange sweet delicacies on this day. The day begins by taking an oil bath with rituals which are followed by prayers. Marathi families usually start this day by consuming a paste of bittersweet leaves of neem tree which is prepared with neem leaves, jaggery, and tamarind. This paste is believed to purify our blood and strengthen the body’s immune system.