In the hindu lunar calendar, Chaitra is the first month and the first day of it marks the beginning of a New Year for many Indian states. The month begins with a new moon day around March or April, which turns new year for many hindu households. States like Tamil Nadu call this New Year as Chaitrai Vishu or Puthandu while the same is Ugadi in Karnataka or Sansar Padwa in Goa. In case of the state of Maharashtra, this New Year that marks the beginning of spring is referred to as Gudi Padwa.
An important and significant day of celebration for Maharashtrians, this day involves certain set of rituals and ceremonies that Maharashtrians perform as part of their culture.
Abhyangasnan, or the holy bath
The Gudi Padwa day usually starts with an extensive oil bath followed by a dip in a nearby river. Though now, the bath happens at home only but necessarily ends with a distinct dress code for both men and women. Men on this day, stick to traditional attire like kurta, pajama and turban. Maharshtrian women wear a nine yard saree tucked to their back, more popular as kastha or nauvari.
Rangoli, or decorating the house
Cleaning the house is important in Gudi Padwa. Cow dung is use to sweep the courtyard, followed by colorful floral decorations by the doorstep. This is called rangoli, and the same is also done in many other hindu festivals. Vermillion, rice powder and turmeric are mandatorily used in this rangoli. In modern times, some add flowers and candles to the same to highlight the decoration.
The Gudi, or the flag hoisting
On Gudi Padwa, every Maharashtrian household hoists an upside down new kalash made of silver, copper or bronze covered in a red, yellow or saffron cloth. The same contains a gathi (a type of sweet), neem leaves, coconuts, mango leaves and marigold flowers that signify a rich harvest. After hoisting it’s positioned to the right side of main entrance of the house so that passerby or neighbours can see it from a distance. Many call this as ‘the flag of Brahma’ (Brahmadhvaj) as on the same day, Lord Brahma is believed to have created the universe. Those who hoist the saffron flag, is believed to commemorate the victories of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Puja, or spiritual worship
While offering to Lord Brahma on the day of Gudi Padwa, one necessarily needs to offer davna (a fragrant plant). This is followed by a sacrificial fire called as ‘hom’, ‘havan’ or ‘yagna’. This fire ritual is common in many other hindu celebrations and denotes welcome of wealth, health and perish of evil from the family.
Neem, a part of the prasadam
No hindu festival is complete without a delicious food chart. In Gudi Padwa, the finger licking dishes are pooran poli, soonth panak, chana and shrikhand. Also, neem is a mandatory in this day’s menu. Tender leaves and flowers of neem is mixed with soaked split gram lentil (dal) or soaked gram, honey, cummin seeds, jaggery and asafoetida to make it a tasty item in the menu.