Ugadi, Yugadi or Samvatsaradi festival observations in Karnataka

This is an article on the New Year, Hosa Varsha – Ugadi celebration in Karnataka. The article deals with the significance of Ugadi, preparations for Ugadi, Ugadi special symbolic and special dishes, Panchanga pravachana, observances in other parts of the country, and the various legends about Ugadi celebrations. Given below are these details on Ugadi.

Yugadi Habbada Shubhashayagalu

Ugadiya subhasayagalu

Ugadi festival in 2012

This year Ugadi falls on 23rd March, 2012.

Ugadi is also known as Yugadi, Chandramana Ugadi, Chandramana Varsha and Vatsara aarambha and of course the New Year in various places.

Ugadi celebrations in Karnataka

Ugadi Greetings

Karnataka celebrates Ugadi festival in a grand manner. It is a grand festival for Kannadigas as any other people celebrate their respective new years. The day starts with a ritual elaborate oil bath. The bath is followed by wearing new cloths and offering prayers to the family, village, favorite and other deities. The doors especially the main entrance door will be decorated with festoons, flower garlands, baale kamba (plantain stems with leaves) will be tied. Fresh mango leaf bunches will be tied on either side f the main door and other doors. Fresh mango leaf thorana will be tied on the sill (top cross panel) of the door frame. As to the reason for tying the mango leaves is the reason attributed to the liking of mangoes by Subramanya (Karthikeaya or Kumara) and Ganesha. They are the sons of Lord Siva and goddess Parvathy. It is said that Karthikeaya suggested to people to tie the fresh mango leaves to the door way. This is to symbolize the wish for a good crop and prosperity of the family.

Significance of Ugadi celebrations

Ugadi or the New Year come after the Holi celebrations are over and it is time for the change of the climate to the spring. The spring season is supposed to be the first season of the year heralding new life of the year. The flowers on the trees, creepers and plants are in full bloom. The mangoes half way grown are going to mature soon spreading their own sweet aroma in the atmosphere. Many of the plants/trees start their new life with the sprouting of shoots, leaves and flowers in spring. The entire nature will appear to be at the peak of life and gay. Everywhere the nature will look growth, well beings and prosperity. The sweet fragrance and colors of the jasmine rose and other flowers will fill the atmosphere along with the senses and minds of the beholders. Apart from the decorations of the houses, deities/photos of gods, the ladies can be seen with the garlands of jasmine and other flowers tucked in their hair spreading the fragrance wherever they go. The fully blossomed Neem (Azadirachta indica - Indian Lilac) trees and honge trees (Milletia or Pongamia pinnata – Indian beech) makes the surrounding areas healthy by spreading their healing elements in the atmosphere. The making of the jaggery in villages and small towns and on the peripheries of the cities from the matured sugar cane crop helps to make sweet delicacies add flavor to the Ugadi environment while spreading its own aroma in the area. Incidentally this is also the season for making pickles to be preserved and used till the next season.

The social activity on the Ugadi day is arranging Kavi Sammelan where recitation of poetry is done.

Preparing for Ugadi celebrations

People start the preparation to celebrate Ugadi from one week to 10 days onwards before the festival day. The houses used to be color/white washed in the earlier years. Now it is distempering and done once in 4 – 5 years. Every item in the house will be taken out, dusted and cleaned and rearranged. The house floors will be washed thoroughly. On the previous day Rangolees (drawing patterns with watery rice color and other colors) will be drawn on the floors at important places like the entrances, hall and the pooja room etc. Hectic shopping may be done for buying new clothing and other items required for the celebration of the Ugadi festival. In the rural areas and small towns or places where old types of houses with compounds are found the front side court yards of the houses will be plastered with the cow dung liquid splashed to cleanse and adorn with Rangolees.

Symbolic Eating of a Dish with Six Tastes

Ugadi Pachchadi

The eating of a special item of 6 tastes is a must signifying the fact that the life is a mixture of all feelings. The item made of 6 tastes are bitterness equivalent to the sadness, sweetness equal to happiness, hot taste equal to anger, saltiness signifying fear, sourness corresponding to disgust and the tang signifying surprise. The 6 items which are part of the special mix item for the day are the Neem buds and flowers; jaggery; green chilly/pepper; salt; tamarind and raw mango. This is to symbolize of our accepting the 6 feelings explained in our life as they come and go. Now it is mainly reduced to 'Bevu, Bella' (meaning Neem and jaggery).

Special dishes of Ugadi festival

Any festival in any religion is an event celebrated happily and for happiness. The Ugadi festival celebration is also similar. In any celebration of any religion one of the main items is the food. For every festival there will be at least one special dish if not more. Ugadi has its special dishes named Obbattu or Holige with coconut shredding or cooked dhal. Accordingly it will be called either kaai or bele holige/obbattu. The holige is eaten hot or cold with mostly ghee topping or occasionally with milk topping. Ugadi Pachchadi (dish of 6 tastes mentioned above) is another special Ugadi dish. The other items will be common to most of the festivals or functions like marriage, gruha pravesam etc.

Listening to panchang or almanac recitation

One of the rituals of Ugadi is to listen to the panchang/Almanac of the New Year read by someone conversant with it. This will consist of 5 elements f the day like the Nakshatra, thithi, vaara, masa, samvasara etc. But the panchang read on the Ugadi day will have a general forecast of the year as to what are the good and bad of the year in general for all. Now this ritual is mostly substituted by the watching of a relevant TV channel which may be doing this under the name to mean as Panchanga Sravanam, for the benefit f the viewer families. In the earlier years it used to be listened at the temples or Matts.

Other activates on Ugadi day

It varies with families and places. Some engage in literary and poetry discussions/discourses, Carnatic music recitation or dance. These are changed in many places with TV programs or light/film music and dance. Wishing each other the 'Subhasayagalu' (good wishes) is an important item.

Observance of the festival in other states

Ugadi is celebrated in Karnataka, Andhra and Maharashtra and the Konkan belt. The New Year day the Ugadi is celebrated on the 1st day of the Lunar calendar month of Chaitra (normally falls during March – April of the English calendar months). Chaitra is the first month of the lunar calendar system of year. In Maharashtra Ugadi is called as Gudi Padwa. The Sindhis (people from Sindh now in Pakistan migrants during partition) also celebrate their new year called by them as Cheti Chand on the Ugadi day. Manipuri's observe the New Year on the same day by the name Sajibu Cheiraoba and Punjabis celebrate Ugadi as Basakhi. These states will have their own special dishes of the Ugadi, Yugadi, Gudi Padwa, and Baisakhi etc like holige, pulihore, bobbatlu, puliogure, puran poli or sweet rotis etc. Most of the other parts of the country the new year is observed on the Solar calendar first month first day called as vishu, bhigu etc which falls around April 14 – 15th.

Legends about Ugadi festival

There are many legends connected with the Ugadi and its origin. Let us see some of them.

Remembrance of start of Kali Yuga

Yugadi is yug (age or year) and adi (beginning) means beginning of age, New Year's Day. It falls on different days each year unlike the English calendar New Year days. Ugadi or Yugadi has significance. As per Hindu philosophy the life cycles are divided into an 'epoch' or 'era' or a Yuga. Three Yugas are over and we in the 4th Yuga, the Yuga of Kali – kali Yuga. Each Yuga has its own span of years recorded in terms of years of the demigods. The first Yuga was Satya Yuga, 2nd one Treta Yuga, the 3rd one is Dvapara Yuga and the 4th and current Yuga is Kali Yuga. Kali Yuga is of duration of 1400 years of demigods. Each year of demigod is equal to 360 years of human or solar years. Accordingly the Kali Yuga is to of 4,32,000 human years. It is the belief of Hindus and as explained by Sage Vedavyasa that Kali Yuga started when Lord Krishna left this world. According to the description given, the Kali Yuga started on February 17/18th midnight of 3102 BC which was the 1st day of the 1st month of Lunar calendar. Thereafter every year that day is observed as the remembrance of the start of Kali Yuga. Since the Lunar year is based on the movement of moon with respect to earth it varies from that of the Solar year which is based on the 24 hours a day with 365 days for a year. The lunar New Year keeps on changing.

Ugadi celebration based on the Saka era or Shalivahana era

The Karnataka is celebrating the Ugadi as the New Year based on the Shalivahana Era or Saka Varsha. This era starts from date of the founding of the Shalivahana (Satavahana) Empire by it famous emperor Gauthamiputra Satakarni (more popularly known as Shalivahana). The empire is supposed to have been founded during the year AD 78. Therefore the current Shalivahana year or Saka Varsha is 1934. The new year under this era falls on the Chaitra masa (1st month of year) Shukla Paadyami (1st day of the waxing phase – 1st day after the new moon day). This usually falls around Feb, Mar or April of English Calendar. Unlike the English calendar or the Solar calendar this does not fall on the same day every year. The difference is due to the fact that the Lunar year is based on the rotation and movement of moon around earth and it does not take one month to rotate by itself and takes less than a year to complete a round.

Ugadi based on Bhaskara Lunar calculations

Yugadi or the New Year starts on the 1st new moon day after the Sun crosses the equator during its Utharayana (travel from South Pole to North Pole) period. This is based on the calculations of Bhaskara a mathematical and astronomy scholar of 12th century, born in Bijapur of Karnataka in India. For Indians the day starts at day break (sun rise) and therefore the New Year starts on the next day morning that is on the 1st day (Paadyami) day.

Ugadi to commemorate creation of universal beings?

Another version about the Ugadi festival's beginning is that the Lord Brahma the creator of the beings in the universe started his creation activity on this day that is on the Chaitra suddha Paadyami.
Ugadi subhasayagalu

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