Yugadi (from yuga + aadi, yuga means era, aadi means start. The start of an era) is the New Year’s Day for the people of the Deccan region of India. While the people of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh use the term Yugadi/Ugadi for this festival.

It falls on a different day every year because the Indian calendar is a lunisolar calendar. The Saka calendar begins with the month of Chaitra (March–April) and Ugadi marks the first day of the New Year. Chaitra is the first month in Panchanga which is the Indian calendar.

The people of Maharashtra term the same festival, observed on the same day, Gudi Padwa. Sindhis, people from Sindh, celebrate the same day as their New Year day Cheti Chand. Manipuris also celebrate their New Year (Sajibu Cheiraoba) on the same day. It is observed as Baisakhi in Punjab, and Puthandu in Tamil Nadu.

The word Yugadi can be explained as; ‘Yuga’ is the word for ‘epoch’ or ‘era’, and ‘aadi’ stands for ‘the beginning’. Yugadi specifically refers to the start of the age we are living in now, Kali Yuga. Kali Yuga started the moment when Lord Krishna left the world. Maharishi Vedavyasa describes this event with the words “Yesmin Krishno divamvyataha, Tasmat eeva pratipannam Kaliyugam“. Kali Yuga began on Feb 17/18 midnight 3102 BC.

The festival marks the New Year day for people between Vindhyas and Kaveri River who follow the South Indian lunar calendar, pervasively adhered to in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa.

This calendar reckons dates based on the Shalivahana era (Shalivahana Shaka), which begins its count from the supposed date of the founding of the Empire by the legendary hero Shalivahana. The Satavahana king Shalivahana (also identified as Gautamiputra Satakarni) is credited with the initiation of this era known as Shalivahana. The Salivahana era begins its count of years from the year corresponding to 78 AD of the Gregorian calendar. Thus, the year 2000 AD corresponds to the year 1922 of the Salivahana Era.

In the terminology used by this lunar calendar (also each year is identified as per Indian Calendar), Yugadi falls on “Chaitra Shudhdha Paadyami” or the first day of the bright half of the Indian month of Chaitra. This generally falls in the months of March or April of the Gregorian calendar. In 2010, Ugadi falls on March 16.

Lunar calendars have a sixty year cycle and starts the new year on Yugadi i.e., on “Chaitra Sudhdha Paadyami“. After the completion of sixty years, the calendar starts a new with the first year.

Yugadi (start of New Year) is based on Bhāskara II lunar calculations in 12th century. It starts on the first new moon after Sun crosses equator from south to north on Spring Equinox. For example, the time for the new moon for Bijapur where Bhaskaracharya was born can be determined from the website. However, people celebrate Yugadi on the next morning as Indian day starts from sun rise. Many Indians in America also celebrate Yugadi.

 

Symbolic eating of “Pachhadi”

The Kannada, Telugu and the Konkani Diasporas in Karnataka and Kerala, people celebrate the festival with great fanfare; gatherings of the extended family and a sumptuous feast are ‘de rigueur’. The day, however, begins with ritual showers (oil bath) followed by prayers, and then the eating of a specific mixture of six tastes

called Ugadi Pachhadi in Telugu and Bevu-Bella in Kannada, symbolizes the fact that life is a mixture of different experiences (sadness, happiness, anger, fear, disgust, surprise) , which should be accepted together and with equanimity.

The special mixture consists of:

  • Neem Buds/Flowers for bitterness
  • Raw Mango for tang
  • Tamarind Juice for sourness
  • Green Chilli/Pepper for heat
  • Jaggery and ripe banana pieces for sweetness
  • Pinch of Salt for saltiness

 

Special dishes

In Karnataka a special dish called Obbattu or Holige, is prepared. In Andhra Pradesh, a special dish called Bhakshyalu or Bobbatlu (Puran Poli) are prepared on this occasion. It consists of a filling (Bengal gram and jaggery/sugar boiled and made in to a paste) stuffed in a flat roti like bread. It is usually eaten hot/cold with ghee or milk topping or coconut milk at some places of Karnataka.

Recitation of Almanac

Later, people traditionally gather to listen to the recitation of the religious Panchangam (almanac) of the New Year, and the general forecast of the year to come. This is called the ‘Panchanga Sravanam’, an informal social function where an elderly and respected person refers to the new almanac and makes a general benediction to all present. The advent of television has changed this routine, especially in the cities. Nowadays, people turn on the TV to watch broadcasts of the “Panchanga Sravanam” recitation.

 

Cultural and Literary events

Ugadi celebrations are marked by literary discussions, poetry recitations and recognition of authors of literary works through awards and cultural programs. Recitals of classical Carnatic music and dance are held in the evenings.

 

Festive wishes

When you meet any Telugu people and want to wish them for Telugu New Year, you say “Ugadi Shubhakankshalu – ఉగాది శుభాకాంక్షలు (Noothana Samvatsara Shubhakankshalu – నూతన సంవత్సర శుభాకాంక్షలు)“. In response they greet you with, “Meeku kooda Ugadi Shubhakankshalu – మీకు కూడా ఉగాది శుభాకాంక్షలు (Meeku kooda Noothana Samvatsara Shubhakankshalu – మీకు కూడా నూతన సంవత్సర శుభాకాంక్షలు)“.

In Kannada, the greeting would be “Yugadi Habbada Shubhashayagalu” (Greetings for the festival of Yugadi) or “Hosa varshada shubhashayagaLu” (Greetings on the New Year).

In Konkani, it would be Navin varsache shubhashyay,Samvatsar padvyachi shubheccha.

 

Advertisements