Ugadi – The beginning of a new age



Yugadi, (Ugadi) Samvatsara (Telugu); Ugadi (Kannada) is the New Year’s Day for the people of the Deccan region of India. The name Yugadi or Ugadi is derived from Sanskrit words yuga (age) and adi (beginning): “the beginning of a new age”. It falls o a different day every year because the Hindu calendar is a lunisolar calendar. The Saka calendar begins with the month of Chaitra (March-April) and Ugadi marks the first day of the new year. Chaitra is the first month of the Indian calendar:

While the people of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka use the term Ugadi/Yugadi for this festival, the people of Maharashtra term the same festival, observed on the same day, Gudi Padwa.

Ugadi Pachadi Six Different tastes

Marwars, people of Rajasthan celebrate the same day as their new year day Thapna. Sindhis, celebrate the same day as their New Year day Cheti Chand. Manipuris also celebrate their New Year (Sajibu nongma panba) on the same day. It is observed as Baisakhi in Punjab and Puthandu in Tamilnadu. It is also celebrated in Mauritius. Hindus of Bali and Indonesia also celebrate their new year on the same day as Nyepi. This tri-state festival could be the result of the result of the common rulers from the Satavahana Dynasty.

Lunar Almanac

The word Yugadi can be explained as; ‘Yuga’ is the word for ‘epoch’ or ‘era’, and ‘adi’ stands for ‘the beginning’ in Sanskrit. Yugadi specifically refers to the start of the age we are living in now, Kali Yuga. Kali Yuga started the moment when Lord Krishna left the world. According to astronomical calculations. Kali Yuga began on February 17/18 at midnight in 3102 BCE.

The festival marks the new year day for people between Vindhyas and Kaveri river who follow the South Indian lunar calendar, pervasively adhered to in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa.

Lunar Almanac

The calendar reckons dates on the Shalivahana era (Shalivahana Shaka), which begins its  count from the date of the founding of the empire by the legendary King Shalivahana. The Shalivahana king Shalivahana (also identified as Gautamiputra Satakarni) credited with the initiation of this era known as Shalivahana. The Shalivahana era begins its count of years from the year corresponding to 78 CE of the Gregorian calendar.

In the terminology used by the lunar calendar, Yugadi falls on “Chaitra Shuddha Padyami” or the first day of the bright half of the Indian month of Chaitra. This generally falls in the months of March or April of the Gregorian calendar.

Lunar calendars have a sixty year cycle and starts the new year on Yugadi i.e., on “Chaitra Shuddha Padyami”. After the completion of sixty years, the calendar starts a new with the first year.

Yugadi (start of new year ) is based on Bhaskara 2 lunar calculations in 12th century, it starts on the first new mon after Sun crosses equator from south to north on Spring Equinox.

Observance of the Festival

The Kannada, Tulu, Marathi, Telugu and the Konkani diaspora in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu and Kerala celebrate the festival with fanfare; gatherings of the extended family and a sumptuous feast are ‘de rigueur’. The day, begins with ritual showers (oil bath) followed by prayers.

A Dish With Six Tastes

The eating of a specific mixture of six tastes, called Ugadi Pachadi in Telugu and Bevu-Bella in Kannada, symbolizes the fact that life is a mixture of different experiences (sadness, happiness, anger, fear, disgust, surprise), which should be accepted together and with equanimity through the New Year.

Ugadi Ingredients Pachadi

The special mixture consists of:

  • Neem Buds/Flowers for its bitterness, signifying Sadness
  • Jaggery and ripe banana pieces for sweetness, signifying Happiness
  • Green Chilli/Pepper for its hot taste, signifying Anger
  • Salt for saltiness, signifying Fear
  • Tamarind Juice for its sourness, signifying Disgust
  • Unripened Mango for its tang, signifying Surprise

Special Dishes

In Andhra Pradesh, a special dish called Bhakshya or Bobbatlu (Polelu) (Puran Poll) prepared on this occasion, In Karnataka a special dish called Obbattu or Holige, will prepare. It consists of a filling (gram and jaggery/sugar boiled and made into a paste) stuffed in a flat roti-like bread. It is usually hot or cold with ghee or milk topping or coconut milk at some places of Karnataka.

Recitation of Almanac

Later, people traditionally gather to listen to the recitation of the religious Panchangam (almanac) of the year, and the general forecast of the year to come. This is called the  “Panchanga Sravanam, an informal social function where an elderly and respected person will read the almanac.

  • Telugu, the greeting is “ugadi subhakankshalu”
  • Kannada, the greeting is “Yugadi Habbada shubhashayagalu” (Greetings for the festival of Yugadi) or “Hosa varshada shubhashayagalu” (Greetings on the new year).
  • Konkani, it would be Nawe versace shubhashaya, Samsar pasvyache shubhashaya.
  • Marathi, it would be  (Gudi padvyachya hardik shubhechcha).
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