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(Photo Credit: Picture of 'Gudi' that is raised in front of homes, by Geeta Sule)

Gudi Padwa marks the first day of the lunar based Hindu Calendar. In short, it is Hindu's new year day.

The festival is also said to mark the beginning of spring and is referred to by different names in different parts of India. For instance, it is called Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh state of India and as Yugadi in Karnataka. The day also marks the start of Chaitri Navaratri, 'Chaitra' being the first month in the Hindu calendar. 'Navaratri', of course, is the nine ('nava') nights ('ratri') of fasting and/or festivities.


"On this day in Maharashtra, 'Gudi' is raised, much like a flag, in front of every house", explains Geeta Sule of Dallas, Texas, who grew up in Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra. "Gudi" is elaborately made with a "kalash" (pot) at the very top of a stick that is decorated with silk fabric and flowers. "I remember how beautiful the streets of Bombay looked on the day- with beautiful gudi adorning the front of each house. The 'kalash' were often made of silver, " reminisces Geeta as she went back to the days when celebrating Gudi Padwa was an elaborate affair in her parents' home, as most festivals tend to be in India. She remembers all family members getting ready in traditional outfits to gather around for the raising of the gudi on Gudi Padwa. Explaining the origin of the festival, she says that according to the mythology, people installed gudi to celebrate the victory of Lord Ram over Ravana. The tradition came to signify the victory of good over evil. Some believe the practice was revived by Shivaji, the Maratha ruler, and is hence prevalent mainly in Maharashtra. 

In Andra Pradesh and Karnataka, the day is celebrated as the beginning of a new year. Like most Hindu festivals, it involves scrumptious food, mouth-watering sweets and traditional outfits. Suma Srinivasan, who grew up in Bangalore (Karnataka, India) and has been living in America for many years now, talks about celebrating the day as Ugadi. "We celebrate Ugadi( new year) by starting the day with an oil bath , new clothes, offering prayers and eating bevu bella (neem buds and jaggery)- its bitter and sweet taste signifying that life is a mixture of sweet and sad moments and we have to accept everything. The food cooked for this festival are puliogure (tamarind rice) and holige ( puran poli)", she says.

Much like the tradition of spring cleaning in the west, many take it as opportunity to clean up their homes as the festival approaches.



Apr 2016- Gudhi Padva celebration in Pune at Girish and Aparna Kulkarni 's residence: 

The beautiful Gudi adorns the balcony of the house in a relatively upscale neighborhood where Girish and Aparna live in Pune. Gudi hosting has been a tradition in their family for generations. The picture practically invites you to notice not only the elaborate gudi put together by the couple, but also that of the neighbor's next door. You can't help notice the slanting roof much like here in America and of course, the cooler outside the window bring back our own memories of "India days".

Thank you, Girish and Aparna for sharing the picture with desideewar. It certainly tells a tale.


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