Yugādi – The beginning of a New Year

( An article by Kushal Talgeri Bailūr, HaῙdipur Nāgesh Bhaṭ mām)  

A time to evaluate the year gone by and welcome a new year of opportunities to grow in strength.  

‘Yugādi’, which means ‘the beginning of a new era’, marks the commencement of a New Calendar Year for the Hindū-s. It falls on Chaitra Shukla Pratipadā and is a special and important festival for many reasons. It’s believed that on this day: 

  • Lord Brahmā created the Universe 
  • Lord Rāmachandra was coronated 
  • Towards the first day of the month of Chaitra (Pāḍavā), the sun assumes a position above the Vasanta intersection (the point of intersection of the equator and the meridians) and the spring season commences with new leaves and colourful flowers blossoming all around. 
  • In agricultural communities, the soil is ploughed on this day, marking the end of the rābī season and the beginning of sowing of new crops. 

Chaitra Shukla Pratipadā is celebrated across our country in different ways and goes by different names: 

  • Yugādi or Saṁvatsarādi   The southern states of Karnāṭaka, Āndhra Pradesh and Telaṅgānā welcome the New Year with raṅgolī in front of their doorsteps, and garlands of mango leaves adorning the main door. People wear new clothes and feast on HoῙige-s. Pachaḍī, a mix of tamarind paste (sour), neem flowers (bitter), brown sugar or sweet jaggery (sweet), table salt (salt), green chilli (pungent) and raw mango (astringent) is made. It is a symbolic reminder of the different, complex experiences that may confront us in the coming year. 

  • Gud͟hīpāḍavā- In Mahārās͟͟͟hṭra, the Hindū New Year is celebrated as Gud͟͟hīpāḍavā. The day begins with an auspicious oil bath. The doorway of the house is decorated with a 'toraṇa’ - a string of mango leaves and red flowers. A Gud͟͟hī is set up in the following manner - A bright green or yellow brocade is tied to the tip of a long bamboo over which Gāt͟͟hī (a string of sugar crystals), neem leaves, a twig each of mango and neem leaves and a garland of red flowers are tied. This is then hoisted by placing a silver or copper pot placed in the inverted position over it. Raṅgolī-s are drawn on the floor in front of it. This Gud͟hī is worshipped at sunrise as it is believed that the Sun’s rays which consist of the fire and creative principle are believed to be magnified at that time. A prayer is offered to Lord Brahmā and Vis͟hṇu asking for blessings to use this energy to intensify one’s spiritual practice. It is a time for family gatherings with everyone dressed up in new clothes. A mixture of jaggery and neem leaves is consumed to remind us to accept both sweet and bitter experiences with equanimity. A sumptuous lunch includes festive dishes like Shrīkhaṇḍa and purī and/or PūraṇapoῙī. The Pañchāṅga (The Hindū almanac) is read out, usually in the evenings. 
  • Cheṭī Chaṇḍ - Celebrated by the Sindhī community, this festival marks the arrival of spring and harvest. It also marks the birth of Uḍerolāl, also known as Jhūlelāl. On this day, many Sindhī-s take Baharāṇā Sāhib, a representation of Jhūlelāl, to a nearby river or lake. Baharāṇā Sāhib consists of an oil lamp, crystal sugar, cardamom and fruits. Along with these, a kalasha and a coconut are kept, covered with a cloth, flowers and leaves. The community celebrates the festival with major fairs, feasts, processions with jhāṅkī-s (tableaus) of Jhūlelāl and other Hindū deities. Delicacies include Tahirī (sweet rice) and Sāī Bhājī (spinach cooked with a sprinkle of chanā dāl). 


Yugādi festivities at Shrī Chitrāpur Mat͟h, ShirālῙ   

After the daily rituals of the regular morning sevā, a Vishes͟ha Sevā on account of Yugādi and a Rudrābhis͟heka sevā are offered to Lord Bhavānishaṅkar, along with the new Pañchāṅga. This Pañchāṅga, the Baggon Pañchāṅga, is procured from Gokarṇa every year- a tradition that has been followed since H.H. Shrīmat Ānandāshram Swāmījī’s times.   

In the evening, the Pañchāṅga is read by Ulmaṇ Dinesh Bhaṭ mām in Kannaḍā in the presence of all sādhaka-s and local residents present in the Mat͟h. This Pañchāṅga Vāchana takes nearly an hour as it involves various yearly predictions from the entire weather forecast to what the coming year entails for each zodiac sign.  

After the Pañchāṅga Vāchana, the Shrī Chitrāpur Mat͟h calendar is blessed and released at the hands of H.H. Shrīmat Sadyojāt  Shaṅkarāshram  Swāmījī. Once the first offering of the calendar is made to Lord Bhavānīshaṅkar and the Guruparamparā, copies are sent for distribution to the Vantigā payers at all the other Mat͟h-s and local sabhā-s on the same evening.  

Following the As͟hṭāvadhāna Pūjā, Pānaka-Panvāra made from fresh seasonal fruits is served at the bhojanashālā to all the sādhaka-s gathered.  

(Sources: Internet resources, Utsava book, and collated the inputs from HaῙdipur Nagesh Bhaṭ mām, Shirālī)