THE NEW YEAR’S DAY FOR THE PEOPLE OF ANDHRA PRADESH AND KARNATAKA
SIGNIFICANCE AND HISTORY:
The word ‘Ugadi’ originated from two sanskrit words ‘yuga’ and ‘aadi’ which means era and beginning respectively, the beginning of a new era and a new Hindu lunar calendar. According to the age old Panchanga calendar the first day of the first month ‘Chaitra’, Ugadi is celebrated as ‘New Year’ in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
Lord Brahma, the creator is believed to be associated with the day of Ugadi festival because of his creation of the universe which includes the days, months and years along with the vital elements of nature.
The legend states that Lord Kartik once urged people to tie fresh leaves of a mango tree to the doorway in order to indicate a good yield.
The festival of Ugadi is significant because it is a New Year’s day that occurs on the onset of spring season and marks the beginning of a happy, healthy and prosperous year by giving way to cleanliness, new purchases and ritual observances.
During Ugadi festival, ‘Panchanga Sravanam’ is an event that is organised to predict the future and give remedies for overcoming difficult moments ahead. The scriptures of the Panchanga state that the readers as well as the listner are benefited which is equivalent to having a dip in the holy river Ganges.
In Karnataka, after the pooja, ‘Bevu Bella’ is distributed which is a preparation made from neem and jaggery whose combination signifies that life is a mixture of sweet and bitter days, joy and sorrow and that these should be accepted as a part and parcel of life because the Lord will always be there to bless and protect.
During the festival of Ugadi, temples and houses are decorated with fresh jasmine flowers and leaves of mango trees. The leaves of mango trees are tied to the doorway where all the members of the family gather for prayers to seek blessings from the Gods. The people prepare special dishes to mark the festival.
The next step is offering prayers to Sun, on an empty stomach (fasting). Doors of the houses are decorated with fresh mango leaves to propitiate gods. Fresh water of cow dung is splashed on the ground in front of their house where colourful floral designs are drawn.
The ritualistic worship to God is performed, starting early in the morning when the family members getup from sleep at around 4:30a.m.
The main rituals performed are: to watch one’s reflection in a bowl of molten ghee; to apply kumkum to the younger members and performing aarati by the elderly women of the family (Enne ‘Oil’ Shastra); to take oil bath (Abhyang); to wear new clothes; to offer leaves of neem, mango and tamarind to the Gods; to offer garlands made of jasmine flowers to God; to give oil bath to the idols of Gods (Abhyang); to worship (Puja) by following the steps of Abhisheka, Alankara, Naivedya and Mangalarathi; to worship the Panchanga for the new Samvathsara or Year is worshipped (Panchanga Pooje); to perform the Indra Dhwaja Pooje; to place Kalasha with coconut leave on it beside their doors; to decorate the front door with Kemmannu (red earth), Rangoli and Mango leaves. Sometimes neem leaves are also used; to eat jaggery and neem together (Bevu Bella) to mark the presence of sweet and sour events in life’s journey; to offer meals to God and then to eat Oota or meals as Prasada; to visit temples where the priest chants mantras and the people worship to seek blessings of the Gods; and to reflect the literature and culture, at many places at the end of the festival Bhakti songs are sung and a Kavi Sammelans is organised.
After the observances of the rituals are completed, in Karnataka, apart from Bevu Bella, several other dishes are also served for the feast such as Puliogure and Holige (Obbattu).
People visit the temples and houses of friends and relatives and enjoy the feast together due to which human relationships are strengthened.
In Andhra Pradesh, celebration of Ugadi rituals includes cleaning of house and surrounding, decorating entrances with green mango leaves, buying new clothes for family. They wake up early in the morning and bath using Sesame oil to their head and body, and visit temples to offer their prayers.
In Andhra Pradesh, Ugadi Pachadi, a low calorie healthy preparation is made from Neem flowers, new tamarind, jaggery and fresh raw mangoes containing nutrients that cleanse the system and prevents illness or disease. Eatables such as Pulihora, Bobbatlu or bhakshyalu are preparations made with raw mangoes that are served for the feast along with Puliogure and Obbattu.