UGADI – THE HINDU NEW YEAR (Significance – Customs & Traditions)

Ugadi significance…

Ugadi is basically a Hindu festival signifying the time element of the Universe celebrated as a New Year Day coinciding with Chaitra Masam (the first lunar month), Sukla paksha (bright fortnight), Prathama Thithi (first lunar day) as per Lunar Calendar called Chandramana. It is a festival mainly celebrated in the southern part of India and Maharashtra. In Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka it is celebrated as Ugadi while in Maharashtra it is called as Gudi Padwa. In all the three states it is celebrated as per Chandramana. In Tamil Nadu and Kerala it is celebrated as per Sowramana (Solar calendar) on the day Sun enters Mesha Raasi (Aries sign) in the zodiac called as Mesha Sankranthi that generally occurs during the months of March/April every year that is referred to as Solar New Year (Souramana Ugadi). As per Chandramana a month is denoted by the star present on the full moon day. For example the month in which Moon is at or nearer to Chitta star that month is reckoned as Chaithra maasam the first day of which is celebrated as Ugadi festival.

Uttarayana is first among the Aayanas; Vasantha Ruthu (Spring season) is first among the seasons, Mesha Raasi (Aries) is first among the zodiac signs, Chaitra Masam is first among the Lunar months, Sukla Paksha is first among the fortnights, Prathama (Paadyami) is first thithi among the lunar days. The day that coincide with the confluence of all the above mentioned is celebrated as Ugadi. It is an occasion that also signifies the end of an era and beginning of a new era. The day marks the onset of spring season called Vasantha Ruthu first among the six seasons in a year Vasantha, Greeshma, Varsha, Sharad, Hemantha, and Sisira.

The word Ugadi is derived from the word Yugaadi (Yuga + Aadi). Yuga means the period or era and Aadi means beginning. Ugasya Aadi = Ugadi (beginning of Yuga). Uga also means the star movement; the day creation had started; the day Yuga had commenced. Ugadi marks the beginning of an Era/Yuga called as Ugadi which specifically mentions the period in which currently we are living. It also marks the beginning of new Sakha calendar and that day is celebrated as the Hindu New Year (Nootana Samvatsara) Ugadi.

Ugadi is assumed as the day Lord Brahma had commenced the creation; it is also the day Kalpa had commenced known as Kalpaadi. To commemorate the commencement of Creation, this day is celebrated as Ugadi.  According to Valmiki Ramayana it is said that Lord Sri Rama had killed the demon Ravanasura on the day previous to Ugadi falling on the New Moon Day (Amavasya) of the last lunar month Phalguna masam. To commemorate the victory of Lord Sri Rama next day is celebrated as Yugaadi festival marking the beginning of a new era.
Ugadi & the Time Element…
Ugadi means time analysis. As said earlier Ugadi is treated as the beginning of Creation by Lord Brahma and it also signifies the present period in which we are living. Presently we are in the Era of Salivahana called Salivahana Sakha, of the first leg of Kali Yuga (4th Era of 28th Maha Yuga) in the 7th Manvanthara called Vaivasvatha Manvanthara of the Kalpa called Swetha Varaha Kalpa.

As per Vedamana it is believed that the creation had started approx 197 crore years back. As per Yuga pramana life span of Kali Yuga is 432,000 years. Chandramana Calendar has sixty year cycle and each year Ugadi is denoted by a specific name starting from Prabhava and ending with Akshaya. After completion of sixty years the calendar starts anew with its first name again cyclically getting repeated.

Customs & Traditions of Ugadi…


Lot of significance is given on this day for taking Head bath with Thil oil called Thailabhyangana. It is believed that those who do not take head bath on this day will go to hell.

Sun worship on Ugadi…

Ugadi is once again a Sun centric festival. Sun is the soul of Kalapurusha (Lord of time). Without soul there is no existence of man, so also there is no time without Sun. Current Manvanthara in which we are living is called Vaivaswatha Manvanthara named after Vaivaswatha son of Vivaswatha the Sun God. Lot of significance is given to Sun worship during this Manvanthara. On this day Sun sets his journey towards East and when he enters Mesha Rasi (Aries) becomes very powerful. Astrologically Mesha Raasi (Aries) is the sign of exaltation for Sun. Sun worship and Surya Arghya on this day is sacred and meritorious.

Nimba Kusuma Bhakshana

Nimba means Neem and Kusuma means flower. Tradition is that, on the day of Ugadi people eat in the morning after taking bath a pickle (sauce) made with a combination of six ingredients that gives six different tastes (Shadruchi). The ingredients are neem flowers, raw mango, jaggery, new tamarind, dry/green chillies, and salt. In some places people use sugar cane instead of jaggery and pepper instead of chillies. It is popularly called as Ugadi Pachhadi in Telugu, Bevu-Bella in Kannada.
It is a mixture of six different tastes viz. bitter (neem), sweet (Jaggery), sour (tamarind) salty (salt), hot/spicy (chillies/pepper), and tang (raw mango). The philosophy in eating this sauce with six tastes is to say that life is not a bed of roses, rather a mixture of sadness, happiness, anger, fear, disgust, and surprise which has to be accepted together with equanimity. It is believed that eating this pickle with six different tastes on this day one gets courage to face obstacles in life.

There is also a health message involved in eating this. Neem is good for diabetes, skin diseases and acts as a blood purifier. It is called as Sarva roga nivarini. Even today usage of neem leaves is prevalent in rural areas whenever any one is infected with small pox/chicken pox. Jaggery helps in increasing the hemoglobin content of blood that helps in iron deficiency, Tamarind helps in removing excess of kapha, vata, and pitta, raw Mango works in throat related problems and enhances the appetite, Salt gives energy, Chillies removes kapha and vatha, pepper helps in cold and works in throat related problems.

Panchanga Sravanam…

Panchanga means the Almanac that contains astronomical/astrological details mainly related to Thithi, Vaara, Nakshatra, Yoga, Karana together called as Panchaanga (Pancha + Anga) the five limbs or five elements that helps in the identification of various auspicious or inauspicious moments in electional astrology. Panchanga also indicates the forecasts for eclipses, weather, monsoon, transit of planets, implications to individuals based on their birth stars, zodiac signs, rasi phala and general trend with respect to economy, political scenario etc.

Panchanga (Almanac) involves lot of mathematical and geometrical calculations based on side real system, understanding of astronomical phenomena such as movements of heavenly bodies the Sun, Moon and other planets. Mainly Panchanga is based on Surya Siddhantha or Dhrugganitha. Panchangas are published by various authors/agencies in various regional languages based on different philosophies prevailing in Hindu religion. Traditionally people gather on Ugadi day to listen to the learned, the recitation of Panchanga and general forecast for the forthcoming year. In the present days of Television technology this type of gatherings have come down as people listen Panchanga Sravanam from a live telecast by various regional Television Channels. It is said and believed that Panchanga Sravanam (reading/listening to the Almanac) on Ugadi day gives auspicious results.

Thithescha sriyamapnothi varaadayushya vardhanam
Nakshathradharathe papam, yogadroganivaranam
Karanathkarya siddhisthu panchangaphalamutthamam
Kala Vithkarma Kruddhimaan Devathanugraham Labheth
Meaning: Thithi gives wealth, Vara enhances the longevity, Nakshatra removes the sins, Yoga cures the diseases, and Karana gives success in deeds. One who does the karma by knowing the above will have Divine blessings. That is why every day during Sandhya vandana (daily prayer) one is required to do Sankalpa where in, all the above five elements are recited.

Panchanga Sravana on the day of Ugadi is very auspicious. It is said that it gives the results (phala) equivalent of taking bath in sacred river Ganges, blessings of Navagraha. Sun gives courage and glory, Moon gives status, Mars gives auspiciousness, Mercury gives intelligence, Jupiter gives knowledge, Venus gives comfort and happiness, Saturn removes sorrow and obstacles, Rahu gives popularity, and Kethu gives significance.

Prapadanam (chalivendram)
Donating water starting from this day for 4 months (summer months) is said to be very auspicious, sacred and meritorious.
Prapeyam SarvaSamanya Bhoothebhya: prathipaditha
PradanathPitharasarve Thrupyanthucha Pithamaha
Anivaarya Mithodeyam Jalammaasa Chathustayam
We would have come across voluntary organizations erecting spots called Chalivendram during summer months where passersby are served with drinking water stored in earthen pots covered with cloth. It is believed that conducting/sponsoring such activities gives immense pleasure and satisfaction to fore fathers.

Udakakumbha daana…

Udaka means water, Kumbha means pot. Giving charity of water stored in a pot made up of Copper, Silver, or at least earthen pot (made up of mud) covered along with a new cloth to a Brahmin during this period is said to be highly sacred and meritorious.
Yesha DharmaGhato Dhattoh Brahma Vishnu Sivathmaka
Asya Pradhanathsakalam mamasanthu manoratha

Meaning… this water pot called Dharma Ghata signifies the trinal lords (Brahma, Vishnu and Siva) bring unto me fulfillment of all desires.
Vasantha Navarathri…
In Bhagawadgita Vibhooti Yoga, Lord Sri Krishna saysRuthunaam Kusumaakarah; that means, He is Vasantha Ruthu (Spring) most sacred among the seasons. Like we celebrate the nine day festival during Dasara season, similarly a nine day spring festival is celebrated beginning from Ugadi (Chaitra Sukla Paadyami) and ending with Sri Rama Navami. During these nine days Goddess Durga Devi is worshiped. In some places it is celebrated as Sri Rama Navarathri worshiping Lord Sri Rama during these nine days. Ninth lunar day starting from Ugaadi is celebrated as Sri Rama Navami. People also perform parayana of sacred texts  like Ramayana, Sundarakanda, Devi Bhagavatham during these nine days.

Gudi Padwa…

Ugadi is celebrated as Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra state. Gudi means Dhwaja and Padwa means the first day of the New Year. It is customary among the Maharastrian families to erect on this day in front of the house a bamboo stick topped with upturned silver/copper pot decorated with flowers, coloured silk cloth and coconuts. It is worshiped as Brahma Dhwaja/Indra Dhwaja indicating invitation to all the deities to their house on this day. It also symbolizes welcoming the New Year with victory or achievement, joy and happiness. On this day people also eat a mixture of neem leaves, tamarind, jaggery, gram pulse.

In Tamil Nadu Ugadi is celebrated as Puthandu (Varusha Pirappuv) festival and in Kerala it is celebrated as Vishu festival. It is celebrated as a New Years day even in Punjab, Assam, West Bengal, Orissa states. In Punjab it is called as Baisakhi. In Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka it is also marked by literary discussion, poetry recitations, honouring of authors of literary and poetic works, cultural programs, Kavi Sammelana etc. In the evening people gather together and exchange greetings.

In some regions especially in Andhra Pradesh there is a myth that how one live on the day of Ugadi; akin will be the way one lives throughout the year. More than the myth the philosophy is we reap what we sow as the old saying goes. You sow the good then you reap the good. A good thought/action has a good result and an evil thought/action has a bad result. We are the makers of our own fate. As per Karma Philosophy we sow seeds of Karma for our future births through our thoughts and vision and plan for our Karma (Agami Karma) in future births. To attain good results, the foundation we lay for our thought/action should be good from day one perhaps from the Ugadi Day.