What is Ugadi?

January 9, 2012
All around the world, numerous different kinds of people have many types of new year celebrations. There is the Chinese New Year, Jewish New Year, American New Year, and the South Indian New Year called Ugadi. Ugadi is a festival celebrated by almost all Hindus in South India, and just like all other festivals, it has its own unique culture.

Ugadi literally means beginning of an era (Perl). The name comes from two Sanskrit words yuga-which means era, and aadi-which means beginning, so Ugadi is the South Indian Hindu New Year (Perl). It is believed by many Hindus, that Brahma, the Hindu god of creation, created the universe on this day (Perl). The Ugadi festival not only celebrates the new year, but it also celebrates the start of spring (What is the Meaning of Ugadi (Telugu New Year)). The day of Ugadi is the first time there is a new moon since the spring equinox (Perl). At the time of Ugadi, plants are just starting to grow and everything is beautiful. It puts a festive mood in the air. Ugadi is also the start of the hot season, which coincides with summer holidays for students (Perl). Thus, many South Indians say Ugadi is their favorite festival of the year.

For the Ugadi celebration, many preparations are made. First, people clean their homes, including the floors and walls (Perl). Then they hang raw mango leaves on their doorways as a sign of good luck (Perl). A Hindu legend says that a Hindu god first told humans to do it, because of the gods bet with his brother (Ugadi About). In addition, families stock up on fruits and vegetables to make the many foods for the festival (Perl). It is customary on for women to pour cow dung water on their porch or sidewalk; it is considered good luck (Perl). Something else most women do in preparation for Ugadi is to make a Rangoli (Perl). A Rangoli is an intricate chalk patter or design, usually drawn on the front porch of a house (Perl). Usually, they are very large and colorful. Following all these preparations is considered good luck.

There are many beliefs and customs about Ugadi. For example, it is said that starting a business or a new venture is good on Ugadi (Perl). It is also considered highly auspicious to look at the moon and take blessings from elders (How to Observe or Celebrate Ugadi). It is also customary on Ugadi to make a resolution for the year to come (How to Observe or Celebrate Ugadi). It is more or less the same thing as the western New Year’s resolution. One more important custom on Ugadi is to eat the prepared special foods (Perl). If you do not eat the special foods, it means the rest of your year could be unlucky (Perl).

On Ugadi day, the rituals and customs start from right when you wake up. First, you are supposed to wake up at around 4:30 am, at around the crack of dawn (How does one celebrate Ugadi). Next, when you wake up, you have to get off the bed from the right side only, if you get up on the left side, it means the rest of the year will be unlucky (Ugadi About). When you get out of the bed (hopefully right side up), you take an oil bath. The oil should be made of a mixture of castor, coconut and mustard oil and should be done by the matriarch or the head women of the family (Perl). After the bath, you go to the puja (prayer room) room, and do an Ugadi puja (ritual) (Dhamara Interview). When you finish the puja, you break your fast by eating something called Vepa Poota Pachadi, which is a mixture of Neem oil and jaggery (Dhamara Interview). After eating it, next you have to make a Pachadi (Indian soup-like food) called Ugadi Pachadi(Dhamara Interview). Eating Ugadi pachadi is the most important thing to do in celebrating Ugadi, because it symbolizes the nature of life and its emotions (Dhamara Interview). In Ugadi Pachadi, there are six ingredients: jaggery (brown sugar), Neem (a sour tasting plant), Tamarind, Coconut, raw mangos, water, and a spice. All these ingredients indicate that life has wavering emotions of sorrow, happiness, and other feelings (Dhamara Interview). Once they are done eating the Ugadi Pachadi, many go to temples to hear the recital of the New Year Calendar called the Panchanga (Dhamara Interview). The Panchanga includes stuff like predictions, auspicious times to do things, and planetary positions (Dhamara Interview). At a temple, usually once the Panchanga is read, there is a poetry recital for all who write poetry called the Kavi Sammelan (Dhamara Interview). Many poets from everywhere, experienced and beginners, go to a temple to show off their poetry (Dhamara Interview). That is why Ugadi is also called the festival of the poets. After going to the temple, many families go to relative’s houses to spend some time bonding with their relations (Dhamara Interview). Often times, families go to folk dance performances together. So when all this humdrum is over, most people’s day is over.

On Ugadi, many different kinds of special foods are prepared. Primarily the Ugadi Pachadi, which you have already read (Dhamara Interview). Another important dish on Ugadi is Pulihora. Pulihora is like fried rice but with turmeric to make it yellow. Other ingredients in Pulihora are peanuts and curry leaves. Another food prepared on Ugadi is called Obbatu. It is a sweet flatbread made primarily of flour and jaggery. It is eaten as a sweet. Payas, another sweet, is used as an offering to god. Payas is made mainly of sweet rice and milk. Most people love this dish. Other foods made on Ugadi are Vadas, Bhajis and Bondas. These are all deep-fried snacks made with bread outside and are filled with cooked onions, big hot peppers, or just plain salt (Dhamara Interview). Ugadi foods are some of the greatest south Indian dishes of all time.

Every year Ugadi is celebrated by hundreds of millions of South Indians. To them it is one of their most beloved festivals. It marks not only the start of the New Year, but also the start of spring. Ugadi has many unique foods, meanings, and customs. Overall, Ugadi is one of the most celebrated New Year festivals in the world (Perl)

Pronunciation Key


Telugu- (tell- guu)






Vadas-(Vuh- dus)





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

mahe_272 said...
Jul. 17 at 3:45 am
nice article! Ugadi is the new Year Begining for the people in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. People celebrate it by making different items at their homes and invite guest and also draw different colors of rangoli designs to attract them! it is a festival of new Year.
May 29, 2012 at 11:08 pm
Different people in all countries take the home loans in different banks, just because this is comfortable.
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