Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Gudi Padwa - Marathi New Year

The Marathi New Year is called Gudi Padwa and is one of the major festivals in Maharashtra. According to the Hindu lunisolar calendar, Gudi Padwa falls on the Chaitra Shukla Pratipada and celebrated on the first day of the Chaitra month. Hence, for the Marathi people Chaitra marks the beginning of the New Year. The day is also known as Shuddha Pratipada.

Etymological significance of Gudi Padwa
The word ‘padwa’ is said to have originated from the Sanskrit word Pratipad, the word used to mark the first day of a lunar month. Another version said that the word Pagwah is the synonym of the word used in Guyana and Trinidad for Holi.

On the day a Gudi is erected to mark the celebration and hence the word Gudi Padwa has evolved. Gudi is a flag which is erected on the day. It is also called ‘Brahmadhwaj’ and is believed to be the flag carried by Lord Bramha to symbolize joy, happiness, prosperity and victory.

According to the Hindu Holy Scripture, Bramha Purana, Bramha created the world on the day of Gudi Padwa. The people of Maharashtra also believe that on this day Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana.

The celebration of Gudi Padwa lasted for three and a half days and gudi is hung on the front doors and windows on each day of the celebration. Marathis put an upturned silver kalash on the top of the pole of Gudi and tie colorful clothes and coconuts with it. They further decorate their flags with garlands, flowers and sweets.

Marathis take special care in decorating their flags. The long bamboo pole on which bright colored clothes are tied is decorated with gathi or sugar crystals, mango and neem leaves, garlands made of red flowers and hung on a place where it will get most exposure.

According to the Marathi beliefs the Gudi protects the household from evil and brings in good luck and prosperity. As is the custom the Gudi is removed upon the sunset.

The day of Gudi Padwa is considered as a very auspicious day for the Marathis and they offer special pujas to the Gudi with neem leaves, tamarind, jaggery, ajwain and gram pulses. They then eat the items offered in the puja as it is said to purify the blood.

Although the lives of people of Maharashtra are full of festivals and celebrations, Gudi Padwa is said to be the single most important festival of Maharashtra. Hence, the celebration is particularly marked with merriment, fun and abundance and followed in strict traditional manner.

The Marathis will celebrate the day by taking a bath in the morning, wearing new clothed, cleaning and decorating their houses with beautiful rangolis and preparing sumptuous Marathi meals.

As the tradition goes Marathis will prepare dishes like- puran poli, soonth pak, shrikhand, and jalebis on the day of Gudi Padwa.

People of Maharashtra also believe that buying gold and silver on the auspicious day of Gudi Padwa will ensure good luck for the rest of the year and hence the tradition of buying gold and silver jewelries is very popular in Maharashtra.

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