YUGADI IN ANDHRA PRADESH/KARNATAKA, GUDI PADWA IN MAHARASHTRA AND CHETTI CHAND FOR SINDHIS-A SEASON OF JOY AND FESTIVITIES
Tomorrow (4 April, 2011) is YUGADI DAY— New Year’s Day — for the people of the Deccan region of South India. While the people of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka use the term Yugadi for this festival, the people of Maharashtra call the same festival, celebrated on the same day as GUDI PADWA.
SINDHIS, people from Sindh, celebrate their New Year Day on the same day as YUGADI in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka or GUDI PADWA in Maharashtra. Sindhis call their New Year Day as CHETI CHAND. The Saka calendar begins with the month of Chaitra (March/April) and the Ugadi marks the first day of the New Year.
The Yugadi festival based on the South Indian lunar Calendar is celebrated on a grand scale in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. This calendar reckons dates based on the Shalivahana Era (Shalivahana Saka), 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 2011 AD corresponds to the year 1933 of the Salivahana Era. Excepting in the States of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Punjab, West Bengal, Assam and Nepal where the Solar Calendar is adopted for ceremonial, religious and spiritual purposes, in the rest of India only the Lunar calendar is followed. The New Year as per the Solar calendar followed by the people of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Punjab, Assam, West Bengal and Nepal falls on 13/14/15th April every year.
According to the lunar Calendar (also each year is identified as per Hindu Calendar), Yugadi falls on Chaitra Shudhdha Paadyami or the first day of the bright half of the Hindu month of Chaitra. This generally falls in the months of March or April of the Gregorian Calendar. In 2011, Yugadi falls on April 4th depending on the region based on the tithi.
Telugu Calendar, like the traditional Tamil Calendar has 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 anew with the first year. The Telugu name of the New Year that starts on April 4th 2011 is Sri Khara nama Samvatsara in Hindu Panchangam. The Year that has just ended is Vikruti.
The Telugu and Kannada people celebrate the Yugadi festival with great fanfare, marked by joyous gatherings of the extended family and a sumptuous feast which are which are culturally and socially obligatory. The day, however, begins at dawn with ritual oil bath followed by prayers, and sanctified by the eating of ‘Yugadi Pachhadi’ —a specific mixture of neem buds/ flowers (for bitter taste), raw mango (for tangy taste), tamarind juice (for sour taste), green chilli (for hot taste), jaggery (for sweet taste)and a pinch of salt (for salty taste) .This mixture with all six tastes called as Yugadi Pachchadi in Telugu and as ‘Bevu-Bella’ in Kannada, symbolises the sacred fact that life is a mixture of different shades of experiences (sadness, happiness, anger, fear, disgust and surprise), which should be taken together and accepted with equanimity. In short human life is a mingled yarn of joy and sorrow.
On Yugadi Day, in accordance with hoary tradition, people gather together to listen to the recitation of the religious Almanac (Panchangam) of the coming New Year, and to the general forecast of the full New Year yet to come. Traditionally this event is known as the Panchanga Sravanam, an informal social function wherein an elderly and respected person would refer to the new Almanac pertaining to the coming year and give his general benediction to all present with general focus on maximum welfare and happiness of the maximum number. Very unfortunately this time –honoured cultural tradition has been adversely affected by the advent of television which has changed this routine, especially in the cities. Nowadays, people turn on the TV to watch broadcasts of the Panchanga recitation.
In Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Yugadi 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 Yaksha Gana dance are held in the evenings.
Yugadi festival is called ‘Gudi Padwa’ in Maharashtra. It heralds the advent of New Year and is one of the most auspicious days for Maharashtrians. It is customary to erect ‘Gudis’ on the first day (Padwa) of the Marathi New Year. ‘Gudi’ is a bamboo staff with a colored silk cloth and a garlanded goblet atop it, which symbolises victory or achievement. Hence, this day is known as ‘Gudipadwa’ in Maharashtra. The New Year is ushered in with the worship of the ‘Gudi’ and the distribution of a specific ‘Prasad’ comprising tender neem leaves, gram-pulse and jaggery. The symbolism of tastes is the same as what has been described above in regard to Yugadi Pachchadi in Andhra Pradesh
Vasanta Navaratri (literally - The 9-night Spring festival) starts on Yugadi Day and culminates nine days later on Sri Ramanavami which falls on Chaitra Sudhdha Navami.
Just like Yugadi is the New Year Day in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, and Gudi Padwa is the New Year Day in Maharashtra, Cheti Chand, is the New Year Day for the Sindhis from Sindh. According to the Hindu calendar, Cheti Chand is celebrated on the second day of the Chaitra month known as Chet in Sindhi. Hence it is known as CHET-I-CHAND. This Sindhi New Year Day falls every year on the day after Yugadi in Karnataka/Andhra Pradesh and Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra. The Sindhi community celebrates the festival of Cheti Chand in honour of the birth of Ishtadeva Uderolal, popularly known as Jhulelal, the Patron Saint of the Sindhis. This day is considered to be very auspicious for the Sindhis and is celebrated with pomp and gaiety. On this day, people worship water – the elixir of life.
Sindhi followers of Jhulelal observe Chaliho Sahab for 40 days prior to the New Year Day of CHETI CHAND. It suggests that in ancient times, for forty long days and nights, they subjected themselves to self imposed restrictions and austerities such as avoidance of the use of new clothes or shoes, avoidance of soap or oil. There was a careful abjuration of the use of luxurious or opulent things during this period. In the evening, they worship God Varun, singing songs in his praise and praying for blessings and benediction. After 40 days of CHALIHO and after following a regimen of rigorous rituals, marked by self-abnegation with devotion on the banks of River Sindhu, the followers of Jhulelal celebrate the occasion of CHETI CHAND with joyous festivities as ‘Thanks Giving Day’ even today. On Cheti Chand Day a lamp is lit on a bronze plate, and this ritual is called Jyot Jagan.
Those interested about the history or historicity of the Birth of Jhulelal may kindly see www.jhulelal.com/completestory.htm
To conclude in the poetic and patriotic words of Rabindranath Tagore:
On the shores of Bharat,
Where men of all races have come together,
Awake, O my Mind!
Standing here with outstretched arms,
I send my Salutations to the God of Humanity!