This falls on the first day of the month of Chaitra (March-April) according to Chandramana. This is a day of rejoicing. This is new year’s day for the people of Andhra Pradesh and also the Telugu people all over the world. Those who live north of the Vindhya hills observe Barhaspatyamana. Those living south of the Vindhya hills observe Sauramana or Chandramana.
There is a peculiarity about the practices of the various sects of Brahmins; one who is not conversant with them finds it difficult to understand their meaning. Even though they are all Brahmins, certain differences in their lineage may be traced among them. These become manifest in their distinctive calendars where the dates and months vary. Some have calculations according to the solar system, and others according to the lunar system, with the result that despite all being Brahmins, the New Year differs among different sects. Thus there is a Telugu New Year’s Day; a Tamil New Year’s Day, and a New Year’s Day distinct from these in the almanac of North India.
It is believed that the creator Lord Brahma started creation on this day – Chaitra suddha padhyami or the Ugadi day. Also the great Indian Mathematician Bhaskaracharya’s calculations proclaimed the Ugadi day from the sunrise on as the beginning of the new year, new month and new day.
Ugadi is the beginning of a new Hindu lunar calendar with a change in the moon’s orbit. It is a day when mantras are chanted and predictions made for the new year. Traditionally, the panchanga sravanam or listening to the yearly calendar was done at the temples or at the Town square but with the onset of modern technology, one can get to hear the priest-scholar on television sets right in one’s living room.
“Ugadi pachchadi”, a chutny, is a dish that has become synonymous with Ugadi. It is made of new jaggery, raw mango pieces and neem flowers and new tamarind which the tastes of life – a combination of sweet, sour and bitter tastes.
Ugadi is celebrated with festive fervor in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. While it is called Ugadi in A.P. and Karnataka, in Maharashtra it is known as “Gudipadava”.
On Ugadi day, people wake up before the break of dawn and take a head bath after which they decorate the entrance of their houses with fresh mango leaves. The significance of tying mango leaves relates to a legend. It is said that Kartik (or Subramanya or Kumara Swamy) and Ganesha, the two sons of Lord Siva and Parvathi were very fond of mangoes. As the legend goes Kartik exhorted people to tie green mango leaves to the doorway signifying a good crop and general well-being.
People splash fresh cow dung water on the ground in front of their house and draw colorful floral designs. This is a common sight in every household. People perform the ritualistic worship to God invoking his blessings before they start off with the new year. They pray for their health, wealth and prosperity and success in business too. Ugadi is also the most auspicious time to start new ventures.
The celebration of Ugadi is marked by religious zeal and social merriment. Special dishes are prepared for the occasion. In Andhra Pradesh, eatables such as “pulihora”, “bobbatlu” and preparations made with raw mango go well with the occasion. In Karnataka too, similar preparations are made but called “puliogure” and “holige”. The Maharashtrians make “puran poli” or sweet rotis.
Kavi Sammelanam (poetry recitation) is a typical Telugu Ugadi feature. Ugadi is also a time when people look forward to a literary feast in the form of Kavi Sammelanam. Many poets come up with new poems written on subjects ranging – from Ugadi – to politics to modern trends and lifestyles. Ugadi Kavi Sammelanam is also a launch pad for new and budding poets. It is generally carried live on All India Radio’s Hyderabad “A” station and the Doordarshan, (TV) Hyderabad following “panchanga sravanam” (New year calendar) narrating the way the new year would shape up in the lives of people and the State in general. Kavis (poets) of many hues – political, comic, satirical reformist, literary and melancholic – make an appearance on the Ugadi stage.