Ushering in the New Year with colorful festivities

The arrival of spring and New Year are celebrated in myriad ways in different parts of India, giving a rich look into the country’s culture and traditions. This year, most of them were celebrated on March 22, also marking the first day of Navratri festival.

UGADI – The Telugu New Year

Ugadi or Yugadi is celebrated as the beginning of the New Year in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka. The belief behind this is that Lord Brahma created the world on this day and that is why it is celebrated as the first day of the Hindu calendar.

The day begins with a ritual oil bath followed by prayers. Oil baths, hoisting a flag at your home, making rangolis, and eating tender Neem leaves are significant rituals followed by Hindus. People also gather to listen to the recitation of Panchanga, which is the general forecast for the year to come.

GUDI PADWA — New Year in Maharashtra and Goa

Gudi Padwa marks the arrival of spring and the reaping of Rabi crops. According to some beliefs, it’s the day when Lord Brahma created time and the universe. The word Gudi means a flag — a stick decorated with a bright cloth, neem leaves, and garlands is unfurled outside every Maharashtrian’s house. People believe that bringing the Gudi at home ward off evil spirits and bring good luck and prosperity in life. On this day, people draw rangoli on the floor of their houses by using powder color, flowers, and petals. People begin their day with a holy bath in a river, wear new clothes, and visit the temple to offer their prayers to God.

CHETI CHAND – New Year for Sindhi Hindus

The day is significant for Sindhis since it is believed that Varun Dev (water god) emerged as their god Jhulelal on this day to save the Sindhi community from a king who wanted to kill Sindhi culture and Hinduism. Sindhis pray for forty days, a practice known as Chaliho. They fast as well, and after praying, they eat fruits to break their fast.

This day is considered auspicious and favorable for beginning new endeavors. After worshipping Jhulelal, the Sindhi community reveals and shows their rich culture through dance, drama, poetry, and folk arts.

SAJIBU CHEIRAOBA – New Year for Manipuris

The festival is celebrated in Manipur to mark the traditional lunar new year and strengthens the bond of love and brotherhood among family members. People arrange a family feast in which traditional cuisines are offered to local deities on plantain leaf at the entrance gates of the house.

After the hearty meal, people climb up the Cheirao Ching Hill in Chingmeirong or atop a nearby hill in the afternoon to offer prayers. The belief is that it will elevate them to greater heights in their worldly life.

NAVREH – New Year for Kashmiri Hindus

The word ‘Navreh’ is derived from Sanskrit ‘Nava Varsha’ meaning the New Year. Goddess Sharika, who is believed to be the form of Goddess Durga, is worshiped on the occasion of Navreh festival. On the eve of Navreh, a large plate is filled with offerings like rice, flowers, wye herb, new grass, curd, walnuts, coins, salt, cooked rice, pen, bread, etc. On the day of Navreh, the plate is uncovered and the whole family sees the contents of the plate before sunrise. Families visit temples of Goddess Sharika to offer her  turmeric rice in ghee and seek her blessings.

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