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Gudi Padwa

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Gudhi Padwa
Observed by Hindus
Type Maharashtraian's New Year's Day
Begins Chaitra
Date March/ April
Celebrations 1 day

Gudhi Padwa (Devnagari: गुढीपाडवा {often mis-pronounced as guDi padwa because ढी sounds like डी while speaking}) is celebrated on the first day of the Chaitra month, and is celebrated as New Year's Day by Maharashtrians and Hindu Konkanis ( called Samvatsar Padvo[1] or Yugadi by Konkanis ). It is the same day on which great king Shalivahana defeated Sakas in battle.

This is also first day of Marathi Calendar. This festival is supposed to mark the beginning of Vasant (spring). According to the Gregorian calendar this would fall sometime at the end of March and the beginning of April. According to the Brahma Purana, this is the day on which Brahma created the world after the deluge and time began to tick from this day forth. This is one of the 3 and a half days in the Indian Lunar calendar called "Sade-Teen Muhurt", whose every moment is considered auspicious in general to start a new activity.

While the people of Maharashtra use the term Gudhi Padwa for this festival and the Konkanis use Sanvsar Padvo (sanvsar derived from samvatsar meaning year) the people of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka term the same festival, observed on the same day, Ugadi. The Sindhi festival of Cheti Chand is celebrated same day.

Celebration of springtime and harvest

This is a time of the year when the sun’s rays increase in intensity, going from mellow to hot. The crops have been harvested and the fruits of the harvest are making their way to the marketplaces. Mangoes, called "the king of fruit" in India, are in season once again. The ripe smell of jackfruit fills the air. Shrubs and trees are bursting into flower. Everything is fresh and new. It looks and smells like spring (or the best impersonation of quintessential springtime that the climate can do).

The word ‘padwa’ is derived from Pratipada, the first day of a lunar month or the first day after new moon day (Amavasya). Being the first day of the first month of a year, Gudhi Padwa is the New Year's Day for Maharashtrians. India was, and still is to a certain extent, a predominantly agrarian society. Thus, celebrations and festivals were often linked to the turn of the season and to the sowing and reaping of crops. This day marks the end of one harvest and the beginning of a new one, which for an agricultural community signifies the beginning of a New Year. In the case of Gudhi Padwa, it is celebrated at the end of the Rabi season. The term ‘padava’ or ‘padavo’ is also associated with Diwali, another New Year celebration that comes at the end of the harvesting season, thus substantiating the agricultural link to the festival.

Festivities

On the festive day, courtyards in village houses will be swept clean and plastered with fresh cow-dung. Even in the city, people take the time out to do some spring-cleaning. Women and children work on intricate rangoli designs on their doorsteps, the vibrant colours mirroring the burst of colour associated with spring. Everyone dresses up in new clothes and it is a time for family gatherings. Specialties like soonth panak and chana usually are eaten on this day.

Traditionally, families are supposed to begin the festivities by eating the bittersweet leaves of the neem tree. Sometimes, a paste of neem leaves is prepared and mixed with ajwain, gul/gur (known as jaggery in English), and tamarind. All the members of the family consume this paste, which is believed to purify the blood and strengthen the body’s immune system against diseases.

Maharashtrian families also make shrikhand and poori on this day.

The ‘Gudhi’

Gudhi Padwa is especially dedicated to the worship of Lord Brahma. Many legend states that this festival is celebrated to commemorate the coronation of Rama after his return to Ayodhya from fourteen years of exile.

Some Maharashtrians see the gudhi as a symbol of victory associated with the conquests of the Maratha forces lead by the great hero Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Gudhi is also displayed as they are expected to ward off evil and invite prosperity and good luck into the house.
Gudhi is also symbol of victory of Shalivahana over Shakas, which people hoisted when he returned to Paithan.

The gudhi, Brahma’s flag (Brahmadhvaj) is hoisted in every house as a symbolic representation of Rama’s victory and happiness on returning to Ayodhya after slaying Ravan. Since a symbol of victory is always held high, so is the gudhi (flag).

A bright green or yellow cloth adorned with brocade (zari) is tied to the tip of a long bamboo over which gathi (a type of sweet), neem leaves, a twig of mango leaves and a garland of red flowers is tied. This is then hoisted by placing a silver or copper pot placed in the inverted position over it. Beautiful designs with special powder of soft, white stone (rangolis) are drawn on the floor in front of it. Everyone eagerly waits to usher in the new year. Then uttering meaning, ‘I offer obeisance to the flag of Lord Brahma’ one should ritualistically worship the gudhi with a resolve. Since Lord Brahma created the universe on this day, this flag is called ‘the flag of Brahma’ (Brahmadhvaj) in the scriptures. Some also refer to it as ‘the flag of Indra’ (Indradhvaj). On Gudhi Padwa, you will find gudhi hanging out of window or otherwise prominently displayed in traditional Maharashtrian households.

Position of the Gudhi

The Gudhi is raised next to the main entrance of the house. The spot selected should be on the right side (when sighted from the house) of the entrance. The right side symbolizes active state of the soul.[2]

One of the Sade-Teen Muhurtas

According to the Hindu Muhurta system, Gudhi Padwa is considered to be first of the 3 1/2 (or Saade-teen in Marathi) most auspicious muhurtas. The others are

  • 1st Tithi of Chaitra Bright Half - Gudi_Padwa
  • 10th Tithi of Ashwin (Vijayadashami)
  • Akshaya_Tritiya and
  • 1st Tithi of Karttika (Bright Half)

According to Hindu electional astrology any work started during these auspicious muhurtas is expected to bring success.

References

  1. Gajrani, S. (in English). History, Religion and Culture of India. Volume 3. pp. 108. 
  2. Scientific information about Gudhi Padwa Accessed on 30 March, 2007
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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Gudi Padwa. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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