The festival of Gudi Padwa is today, and being a part of the city that celebrates every festival with grandeur, we observe why the festival is celebrated and shed light on its significance.
The great warrior of Maharashtra, Chatrapati Shivaji, was the person who started the Gudi Padwa celebrations after his victory. The tradition of raising the Gudi was initiated by Shivaji and from then on has been followed by every Marathi household to welcome the New Year. It also symbolizes victory or ‘Vijay Dhwaj’ which is named after Shivaji. It is also the first day of the ‘Chaitra Navratri’ and ‘Ghatasthapana’ which is known as ‘Kalash Sthapana’. This day is considered to be auspicious and therefore most celebrations are made.
On the day of the Gudi Padwa, traditional Maharashtrian houses stick out of their windows a ‘gudi’ which is prominently displayed. The Gudi is actually an elaborate process, which requires either a bright green or yellow cloth with zari work which is tied to the tip of a bamboo and is decorated with the help of sugar crystals, neem leaves, mango leaves and a garland of red flowers. A pot made of either silver or copper is inverted and put upon it. Every Marathi house places it in such a position so as to make it visible to all. Mostly it is the right side of the house since the right side also symbolizes the active side of the soul.
Astronomically, the new moon is significant and is quite important. The beginning of Spring makes the Sun’s position at Aries (which is the first zodiac sign). This starts the New Year in not only India but also in Egypt and Persia (Nowruz). However, due to the lunar month, the Sun may not always be at the point of Aries at this time of the year. This adjusted by adding an extra month at the end of every three years to ensure the functioning of the Gudi Padwa every year.
Indian economy and society is primarily agrarian and therefore the festivals and celebrations throughout are related directly to the sowing and harvesting of crops. With the year, the agricultural season too comes to an end on the day of the Gudi Padwa and a new one begins. It is the Rabi season, the end of which is celebrated on this day. The Indian Lunar Calendar is supposed to have 3 and a half auspicious days (Gudi Padwa, Akshaya Tritiya, Vijayadashami and Balipratipada) among which one day is that of the Gudi Padwa.
The day of the Gudi Padwa commemorates the beginning of the Vikram calendar after his win over the Sakas. The Brahma Purana says that after the deluge this is the day when Brahma created the world and time has been starting from that very point. The Hindu calendar marks this day as the beginning of the Vasanta season (Spring) when the Sun positions itself above the point of intersection of the meridians and the Equator. Mythologically, this day too celebrates the defeat of Ravana in the hands of Rama and his eventual happy return to Ayodhya.
None of the festivals in India are complete without food, and that too, extremely delicious ones! Traditionally on this day, Maharashtrian families make a dish known as ‘Shrikhand’ and ‘Poori’ or ‘Puran Poli’. Konkanis prepare two dishes: one is named ‘Kanangachi Kheer’ which is a type of Kheer made with sweet potato, coconut milk, jaggery and rice flour and the other is called ‘Sanna’. But before all this, families are supposed to start the festivities by eating neem leaves – sometimes raw or by mixing it with tamarind a jaggery. Accompanied with all this houses are decorated with Rangoli of different colours celebrating Spring.
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