Ugadi Wishes

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Hinduism is known for a lot of festivals, even though over time many of them have lost its festivities, some of them have survived modernization and lack of time. Some of these festivals are my favorites, some because of the way we celebrate them, some for the sweat memories associated, and some for the philosophy behind the festival, today happens to be one such festival. Today is the first day of our new year.

Like Chinese calendar which has 12 years named after animals, Hindu calendar has an year cycle of 60 years, and each of them are called samvatsara, at one point I could name all of them, but aging body has affected my memory ;). Today happens to be the beginning of the sarvadhari samvatsara, and we call the festival “Ugadi”, which literally means a beginning of the new year [era]. You can read some more info about the festival here.

On the day of  Ugadi, apart from the normal practice of taking an oil bath, and praying to the god, we have two very unique practices. One is we touch the feet of the oldest in the family, and he/she will provide us with the blessings and hand out a mixture of neem[margosa] and jaggery [unrefined sugar], the other thing is the eldest in the family, generally the male reads the almanac or panchanga [Indian calendar] .

I like the philosophy behind handing out the mixture, as today is the beginning of the new year, this practice is a symbolic way, of the eldest in our family to tell us, life is going to be a mixture of a sweet jaggery and also the highly bitter neem, so the elders bless us with the courage to face both the highs and the lows. As kids I used to hate eating neem, as it is very bitter, especially the flower is much more bitter than the leaf, but then as I began to realize the importance, the bitterness became more symbolic, and at the end it really solved the purpose, you cannot eat just the neem its too bitter, nor can you take just the jaggery its very sweat, so its always good to take life as a mixture.

Reading the almanac, is again a group activity, like many of the other festivities, this again is an attempt to gather the family members, almanac has a lot of predictions for the year, including the months where rains are  predicted, days which are considered to be auspicious, days of eclipse and stuff like that, it provides a common platform where the family could really plan the year ahead, and take inputs from each other. Its again a symbolic gesture, we really don’t go through the almanac, and only as a formality my dad generally reads through some paged of it, but good thing is we all get together, discuss what we are planning for the year, and more importantly know a bit about this samvatsara.

Wishing you all a very happy ugadi, and a very prosperous Sarvadhari samvatsara.

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12 responses »

  1. I find ritualistic holidays/festivals fascinating. I was raised with few such & love hearing about others. Symbolism & actually putting one’s belief & mindset into what rituals mean attract me. I love the idea of neem & jaggery. We could all use such reminders to take the bitter of life with the sweet. Thank you for sharing!

    would love to read more about your festivals autmumn
    -Rambler

  2. What is the vehicle of the Yugadhi Purusha this year? Hosavarshada shubhashayagalu.
    ~rAGU

    nimagu suha hosa varshada subhashayagalu
    -Rambler

  3. Good wishes Rambler, to you and your family. I love the symbolism that you share here… the sweet and the bitter… and the honoring of family. I was also interested to find that this marks the beginning of an era, not just the new year. May it hold much prosperity, love, and joy for you and your family!

    Lea, its again a symbolism there, to many every year can be a new era, its how novel we treat the day..
    -Rambler

  4. best wishes to you too for ugadhi. 🙂

    i love the jaggery-neem mixture concept too. we have it on new year as well. 🙂

    Priya..oh really din’t know it happens in gujrat as well..just love the neem trees in ahmedabad though
    -Rambler

  5. Our new year is round the corner too. All our new years coincide with the agricultural calendar and therefore it involves eating heartily 🙂 In my custom too we are given neem first and then sweets. Infact for a bengalee any meal begins with a bitter dish (bitter gourd or neem) and ends with a sweet. For new year (poila Baishakh) we get new clothes too and yes we seek blessings from all our elders. I have always been facinated with the community aspect of our festivals.

    ah eating.. that too rich bangla food ha :)..social aspects of festivals intrigue me always.
    -Rambler

  6. Hey,

    Wish you a very happy Yuga-adi.. May this Sarvadhari samvatasar bring you peace, joy and success.

    I’ve been a silent visitor for your blog.. This is my first comment.. You’ve got a nice layout for the blog.

    Same to you suksy.
    thanks for breaking the silence, its good to know more people like you
    -Rambler

  7. How great it feels that we have brought our culture to that point where each and every day is a festival for us. I was not knowing much about this festival. Thanks for sharing it. Happy Ugadi to you also. 🙂

    I feel this concept of Samvatsara is different from VikramiSamvat.
    Aanyways, this concpet of 60 years is amazing. 20 for Brahma, 20 for Vishnu and 20 for Shiva. wow! our ancestors were great! I need to read about VikramSamvat like exactly how they carry on calculations.

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful knowledge.
    Bless You! ~Namaste~

    Nidhi,
    You can try wikipedia. they have lot of information as to how they calculated.
    -Rambler

  8. heyy sorry am a bit late..but belated wishes to u…and thanks a lot for the wishes 🙂
    actually was a bit confused as its better known to me as ‘gudi padva’ 😀

    neways hope the year is filled with pleasant surprises and here’s wishing u good luck with everything 🙂

    take care!

    Thanks Pri
    Didn’t know about gudi padva 🙂
    -Rambler

  9. OK i dint read the whole post.. but well.. I wishd yu already 😉

    Happy new Year!

    Hope everything turns out the way yu want ’em too.. with success and lov and prosperity 🙂

    hoping for the best for yu!

    Veens.. you didnt read 🙂 ?? love the honesty..
    thanks for the wishes.
    -Rambler

  10. being a hindu … i should have known all this stuff … but i never did until today … the sweet-bitter mix is pretty symbolic …
    though my does dadi reads the panchang ..
    7th of april marked the beginning of the “navratra’s” for us.
    we went to the temple, kept a fast, and just wished happy new year to all
    all i am waiting for is the “ashtami” … the food my mum makes that day is delecious !!!!!!
    so a happy sarvadhari samvatsara to you too ….

    BB.. hmm you should know these maybe…but not because you are a hindu 🙂
    oh I did not know about naratra’s will look it up 🙂
    -Rambler

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