Ugadi: The New Year Festival

March 28, 2017
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The word “UGADI” is a mixture of two words, YUG (which means a year)and ADI(which means the start) meaning the start of a new year.  It is celebrated in the month of March. This festival is celebrated as the New Year festival in the Telugu (a language) speaking states of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana. In India each region has their own New Year day to celebrate and this depends on the culture they follow. So it can be said that in our country New Year festival is celebrated over a wide span of time. This gives us the sense of unity amidst diversity. The New Year festival symbolises the start of something new. It gives us hope to work hard and strive for success in the year to come. 

The Telugu calendar is different from our normal calendar. The Telugu calendar is based on the sesons, stars and many other factors. In our tradition the New Year marks the end of the “Phaalgunamu” month which is like the December month of the English calendar. The New Year marks the first day of the “Chaithramu” month which is like the January of the English calendar. There is no fixed date for this festival; it is celebrated as per the astrological positions of the stars and the sun. But mostly it comes in the month of March or April.

The time this festival arrives is the time of spring. This season brings out the magic in nature. New leaves begin to grow on trees, flowers begin to bloom and mainly the start of the mango season (in India Mango fruit is available abundantly only in the months of April, May and June. People wait all over the year for the beginning of this season).In this period the Cuckoo bird comes and eats the flowers of the mango fruit and as it becomes happy by doing so it starts singing beautifully. This act of the Cuckoo bird indicates the advent of the Ugadi festival. Astrologers believe that nature gives us signs to tell that it is the beginning of a great year ahead so we must welcome the new period of the year with lot of Reverence and honour.

Various festivals are celebrated in our region but when compared to any other festival; we Telugu people follow a different set of rules when it comes to Ugadi festival. This festival is a time when the fortune predictions of the year are given. It is said that people who listen to the predictions of the year of all the different Rashis(similar to the sun signs) are blessed  all throughout the year with peace and prosperity. On the day of the festival friends, family and relatives all gather at a place to listen to the predictions of the year. These predictions of the year are called the “PANCHANGHAMS”. This is made by a detail study of the stars, sun and the moon by reverend astrologers. The astrologers work throughout the year to make this Panchangam. It is one of the most important aspect of the Ugadi festival.

Apart from this Panchangam  the important part of the festival is the “UGADI PACCHADI” which is a dish that is made only on the day of Ugadi. The word ugadi pacchadi itself is mouth watering to our Telugu people. The Ugadi pacchadi is not just a dish but it depicts the way of life. It is made with 6 items which are, the raw mangoes, neem tree flowers, tamarind juice, salt, black pepper and Jaggary. Each item indicates the different aspects of life. The raw mangos of this season are the new mangoes that have not yet grown fully so they don’t have the taste of a fully grown mango. The taste of it is bland which indicates that life always cannot be engaging it can be boring too but all of us need to endure it. The neem flowers spring newly in this season and they are very bitter to taste. It indicates that life can give you awful experiences but we all need to go forward with great determination. The salt and black pepper  indicate that life can be too stressful but we should not be stuck in the whirlpool of problems but work up our way out of the problem. The Jaggary of course indicates the sweet moment’s life offers to us. All put together we can say that this food delicacy tell us about the truths of life. After learning about the significance of this dish I was amazed to know that a dish can convey so much meaning. Also there are scientific reasons which tell that consuming this dish is good for health. This Ugadi pacchadi is the heart of the Ugadi festival.

In our household elders get up early in the morning and make the Ugadi pacchadi and other delicacies like Pulihoura(Tamarind Rice),burelu,bobbatlu(sweet dishes) .All of us wear new clothes and  offer special prayers to God. We pray that all throughout the year everyone should be blessed with peace and prosperity. After offering the prayers we consume the ugadi pacchadi first and followed by the other dishes. In the evening we visit the nearby temple and offer prayers to God. We meet our friends and family. All of us then sit down to listen to the Panchangam reading season in the temple. We relish all the time spent there.

Ugadi festival is just not a New Year festival but it is a festival that tells us to reflect on the morals of life and tells us to face life with strength and courage.

Eagerly waiting for Ugadi...

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