Gudi Padwa falls on the 1st day of the month of Chaitra, which is also known as the Chaitra Shukla Pratipada. Gudi Padwa marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Luni-solar Hindu calendar followed in India.
The day also declares the onset of the spring and is an extremely important harvest festival.
Gudi Padwa is predominantly celebrated among the Maharashtrian folks, will usher in the New Year on 18th March 2018 (Sunday). The festival has different names in other regions of the country. It is known as Ugadi in the state of Andhra Pradesh, Yugadi in Karnataka and Sajibu Nongma Panba Cheiraoba in Manipur.
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. Gudi is a stick that is covered in a beautiful, bright cloth covered with an inverted silver or copper pot.
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.
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.
Marathis offer a special puja of neem leaves, tamarind, jaggery, ajwain and gram pulses to the gudi.
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. Whereas, for the Konkanis, the festival is synonymous with dishes like kanangachi kheer, which is an Indian dessert made of sweet potato, coconut milk, jaggery and rice.
Cleaning the house and wearing new clothes are also the integral parts of the celebration.
Gudi Padwa has a great cultural influence over Marathis and they take this opportunity to showcase their traditions and customs.
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