Special thanks to Mr. Mohankumar Thete who shared this historical and traditional subject of India with us .
In the western part of India, the people of Maharashtra will usher in the New Year on Gudi Padwa on 31 Mar 2014 – 31 Mar 2014. This New Year celebration in Maharashtra is known as Gudi Padwa and it is one of the major festivals of this region.
The date of the celebration is decided by the Hindu calendar followed in India and according to that, the date of Gudi Padwa falls on the 1st day of the month of Chaitra, which is also known as the Chaitra Shukla Pratipada. The day also declares the onset of the spring and thus the beginning of the harvest season in the state.
According to the holy Hindu scripture, Bramha Purana, Lord Brahma created the universe on the day of Gudi Padwa and hence, the date is considered auspicious to bring in the new year. Marathis also believe that it is the day when Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after slaying the demon king of Lanka, Ravana.
On Gudi Padwa Marathis will erect a gudi or a flag on their entrances. The flag is known as ‘Brahmadhwaj’ and is believed to be the harbinger of happiness, prosperity and victory.
Gudi Padwa is a three and a half day festival when the Marathis decorate the flag with garland, sugar crystals, flowers, mango leaves and then put a kalash at the top before erecting the ‘gudi’ at the front door. The ‘gudi’ is said to ward off the evil and bring in good luck and hope for the household.
Gudi Padwa has a great cultural influence over Marathis and they take this opportunity to showcase their traditions and customs. They will take special care in decorating gudis as they are considered to be very auspicious and important.
They normally wrap the long bamboo pole in bright color clothes. Earlier a gold or silver kalash was tied to the pole but now people use kalash made of copper or other economical metals. As is the custom, the gudi is hung at the entrance at sunrise and removed before the sundown.
The celebration is marked by both rituals and festivities. Marathis offer a special puja of neem leaves, tamarind, jaggery, ajwain and gram pulses to the gudi. They would then eat the offering as they believe it can cure various blood related ailments. Cleaning the house and wearing new clothes are also the integral parts of the celebration. It is also believed that buying gold and silver on Gudi Padwa would ensure year long prosperity and as a result, long queues can be seen in front of jewelry shops across Maharashtra.
Preparing elaborate meals are considered essential and you can taste some of the best traditional dishes during this time namely puran poli, soonth pak, shrikhand, and jalebis.
Gudi Padwa is an auspicious festival celebrated in India which marks the beginning of the Maharashtrian New Year. This day is considered pious because it is believed that on this particular day, Lord Brahma created the entire universe out of chaos. The festival is remarkable on the basis of seasonal change too, as this day announces the beginning of the spring season. The Hindu name for this day is Chaitra Shukla Pratipada and this festival is celebrated with great pomp and vigor in the state of Maharashtra. Not just in Maharashtra, it is celebrated in different states too with different names and there are a number of different activities which take place in all these states. A few main activities which take place on this occasion are as follows:
Gudi Padwa Traditional Activities
The Solar Bath
All family members take an early morning bath on this day and before they do that, they apply oil on their body. Then the skin is allowed to absorb the required quantity of oil, after which a bath is taken with warm water. Doing this relaxes the body as this bath rejuvenates the whole body. The remaining oil on the body after the bath helps the body to retain the elasticity of the skin and hence it is necessary to apply oil to the body prior to every bath.
Colored Designs on the Doorstep
People prepare rangolis on the doorsteps of their houses, which are beautiful designs made with dry colors. While decorating the doorsteps, mango leaves and red flowers are used as these are considered auspicious.
Soon after the decorations are complete, ceremonial prayers and offerings are made to Lord Brahma, which include davna (a fragrant plant). Later “Havan”, a sacrifice in the pious fire, is conducted during which offerings are made to the fire. These offerings are made to Lord Vishnu who is worshipped in number of forms.
Unfurling the Gudi
The Gudi is considered to be Lord Brahma”s flag and it is hoisted to show Lord Rama”s victory over Ravana and his return to Ayodhya. As it is the symbol of victory and the symbol of victory is always held high, so is the Gudi. A yellow cloth is tied to the Gudi along with red flowers and mango leaves. An inverted silver or copper pot is adorned on the top of the bamboo stick.
After the Gudi is hoisted everyone religiously listens to the almanac, which charts the kind happenings during the year. Listening to this almanac is considered auspicious and it is believed to bestow upon the listener with merits equal to taking a dip in holiest of the holy river Ganges.
Tilling the Soil
On this propitious day, tilling the soil and donating the needy with money and other materialistic needs is considered really auspicious. People also visit and spend time with elders for their blessings.
Gudi Padwa celebrates the beginning of the traditional Hindu year and the day of the festival is the first day of the Chaitra month of the Hindu calendar. It is the Marathi name for festival Chaitra Shukla Pratipada, which is celebrated to welcome the Hindu New Year. This day also marks the descent of the spring season and thus the festival is a colorful one which is celebrated in most part of country with great pomp and show. The celebrations start even before sunrise when people take the auspicious bath after applying oil to their body. The main entrance of the house is decorated with mango leaves and red flowers which are considered favorable for this occasion. Prior to hoisting the Gudi, Lord Brahma is worshipped. He is worshipped because on this particular day he created the universe out of chaos, for which he is also known as the creator of the world.
Importance of Gudi Padwa
When the worship of Lord Brahma is complete, the Gudi is hoisted and Lord Vishnu is invoked to shower his blessings upon the worshipper and his family. The day is a significant one and there are a number of reasons behind it. It is said that Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after slaying Ravana and his allies on this day and the people of Ayodhya celebrated it as the beginning of a new era. History also states that the Gudi is hoisted on this particular day to commemorate the number of victories of Shivaji Maharaj. Thus, considered as the symbol of victory or a victory flag, the Gudi is adorned with mango leaves, a yellow silk cloth and a garland adornment along with red flowers as these things are considered auspicious. Rangolis are also made around the Gudi and at the entrance of houses.
History also has it that the Shakas defeated the Huns on this particular day. Hence, this day is also the first day of the Shalivahan calendar as this was the day king Shalivahan vanquished the Hun dynasty. The most important event though which makes this day so special is that, according to the Brahma Puran, this is the day when Lord Brahma created the universe and Satyug began. The day is also considered auspicious because the divine consciousness which emanates during the early sunrise, if absorbed, lasts longer.