Hues of Culture: India’s winter harvest festival with many names
India is known as the land of festivals where people celebrate life and culture with full vigor and joy. Various states of India celebrate harvest festivals at different times in the year. The first yield of the crop is a delight for the people and they celebrate it cheerfully as a festival.
Here are the major harvest festivals celebrated in India and across the world on April 2:
Gudi Padwa, the Marathi New Year, also marking the beginning of the harvest season, is celebrated with much fervor and enthusiasm in the state. Gudi Padwa is also popularly known as Samvatsara Padvo and it literally means the first day of the new Samvat. Gudi Padwa gets its name from two words – ‘gudi’, which means a flag or emblem of Lord Brahma and ‘padwa’ means the first day of the phase of the moon.
According to Hindu mythology, it is said that Lord Brahma had created the universe on the day of Gudi Padwa. It is also said that on this day Brahma introduced days, weeks, months, and years.
People made rangoli designs at the entrance of their homes and decorate them with flowers and handmade dolls. Folks meet friends and relatives, exchange wishes, and women cook sweets like Puran Poli, Shrikhand, and Sunth Paak. Local people make Gudi (bamboo dolls) using mango and neem leaves and hang them at the entrance.
Ugadi is a regional New Year celebration for the people of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Karnataka. The name Yugadi or Ugadi is derived from the Sanskrit words yuga (age) and ādi (starting) – ‘the beginning of a new age’.
The legend behind the festival is that Lord Brahma created the universe on Ugadi. It is believed that the creator – Lord Brahma has started creation on this day – ‘Chaitra Suddha Padhyami’ or the Ugadi day.
This harvest festival is considered auspicious to start new work and ventures. On this day, people take an oil bath, wear traditional clothes, decorate homes with earthen lamps and rangoli, and perform Ugadi puja at home. Key attractions of the Ugadi festival are Ugadi Pachadi, Pulihora, and Bobbatlu are prepared with raw mango, jaggery, neem, and tamarind.
The Chaitra Navratri which began on April 2, and the following nine days till April 11, holds immense religious significance in Hinduism. Chaitra Navratri falls in the month of Chaitra according to the Hindu calendar which corresponds to March-April as per the Gregorian calendar.
Navratri is a Hindu festival, spanning over nine days in which nine goddesses are worshipped-Shailaputri or Pratipada, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kaalratri, Mahagauri, Siddhidhatri.
There are four seasonal Navratri observed in India, out of which two: Chaitra and Sharad Navratri are celebrated the most. The other two Navratri are observed in the months of Magha and Asadha. The Asadha Navratri also called Gupta Navratri falls in June-July month.
The Cheti Chand festival marks the arrival of spring and harvest and the start of the New Year for Sindhi Hindus. It is seen as an auspicious day for business as it also marks the start of the new financial year.
The Sindhi community celebrates the festival of Cheti Chand to commemorate the birth anniversary of Ishtadeva Uderolal, popularly known as Jhulelal – the patron saint of Sindhis.
According to the legends, in the year 1007, the Sindhis prayed to Varuna, the water god of the Sindhu River, to save them from persecution by a despotic ruler named Mirkhshah. River God promised them that the divine child would be born in Nasarpur to save them from the tyrant. The child was known as Saint Jhulelal. Jhulelal became the key deity of the Sindhi people and is a bearded figure holding a book and a mala (a string of beads) sitting on a fish.
The festival of Cheti Chand is celebrated with fairs, feasts, and processions of icons of Jhulelal and other Hindu deities in India, Pakistan, and the Sindhi diaspora around the world.
Ramadan 2022: Back to normal, almost
Ramadan is the most auspicious month of Islam across the world and is considered the ninth month of the Islamic calendar that appears at the end of the Shaban month. Ramadan began on April 2 and month-long fasting which began on April 3 will continue till May 2, Eid-ul-Fitr.
While fasting, the devotees try to refrain from sinful activities and prefer praying most of the time. Before fasting, people have a predawn meal also called Sehri, which is consumed before the morning Fajar prayer. People break the fast in the evening, which is also called Iftar, after the Magrib prayer.
For the past two years, or in other words, since the beginning of the pandemic, Ramadan traditions, like meeting family and friends for meals after sunset, have been restricted or banned throughout the world. However, as of this Ramadan, only masks and suggested precautions of social distancing inside mosques remain.