Spiritual significance of Hindu’s festival – Gudi Padwa

Gudi Padwa is also a day of spiritual-sadhana and connecting to one’s inner-self so that one may ultimately connect to the Supreme Reality, writes RUBY LILAOWALA.

Open any newspaper,magazine or TV channel these days and you’ll find a plethora of so-called exchange-offers – new cars for old, new T.V.’s for old, new fridge for old (as my husband jokes, there are never offers for a new wife for old).

Jokes apart, these offers pop-up year after yeararound festivals like Diwali or Gudi Padwa. Unfortunately, very few people, including some of my Hindu friends know the spiritual significance of this day which heralds the birth of man well as the joyous season of Spring (Vasant-Ritu).

The materialist is not to be totally blamed because modern life has made him quite unaware of our rich Vedic traditions. Ignorance however can perhaps be excusable because if to-day’s parents don’t know anything beyond a rich materialist life, what will they teach their children? Earlier, grandparents would lovingly teach their children about our lofty traditions, but alas, today, as soon as couples get married, they want to live separately and all old customs and traditions are forgotten one by one. This is what happens to our modern generation and the following article is especially written for the younger generation so they may imbibe this knowledge on one Sunday of their lives.

Hindus follow two calendars viz. the Shalivahaan and the Vedic. While most Hindus go by the Shalivahaan, the Arya Samaj Hindus follow the Vedic calendar. According to Vedic literature, Gudi Padwa is celebrated to commemorate the birth of man in the first month of the year which is Chaitra. It seems that God created man on this day and hence, there is a religious significance to the festivities.

Traditional Hindu families decorate the entrance to their homes with symbols by way of rangolis on the floor and garlands of flowers (toran) on the doorway. These torans have flowers intercepted with mango-leaves. Themain attraction in every home is the Gudi which is a long clean bamboo-stick which has to be longer than the roof. It is tied on its upper end with a silk clothand a silver pot.

Then it is decorated with floral garlands, haldi and kumkum (all auspicious symbols) and kept in front of the house since it welcomes the entire pantheon of Gods and Goddesses into the house. Indian culture is supposed to treat visitors as Gods (Atithi Devo Bhava), this Gudi makes a welcoming metaphor for the guests who may visit the home on this day. In fact, there is also a mini-ceremony, a sort of auspicious ritual to make visitors feel welcome which is called Aththi Yagna.

It is the head of family who erects the Gudi-stick. This is followed by a puja of this stick, usually done by the wife. The ritualistic practice by the elder couple of the household signifies an invitation to all the Celestial-couples among the pantheon of Deities to come to Earth and visit their home and shower their blessings on each and every member of the family.

Gudi Padwa is celebrated on a bigger scale in rural areas perhaps because of open spaces outside homes. City-homes are often cramped and congested and hence, lots of compromises need to be made like smaller bamboos, tiny silver pot (and garlands) and making of gudi on balconies of flats. The essence and tradition of the festival has religious fervour as it is the first day of the New Year for Hindus, especially for those living in Maharashtra.

This auspicious day (Padwa) also heralds the season of spring (Vasant Ritu). The treatise on health of the Aryans viz. Ayurveda prescribes taking dhania, neem leaves and jiggery during this season for optimum health. In Shalivahaan calendar, this day is called “Shalivahaan-Shaka” since legend has it that on this day King Shaliva vanquished the Shakas after a prolonged battle of good over evil.

Since symbolism plays a big role in the Hindu religion, the symbols of thebamboo-stick, silk-cloth, flowers, torans and rangoli complete the celebrations on this auspicious day which is also a day of spiritual-sadhana and connecting to one’s inner-self so that one may ultimately connect to the Supreme Reality. A new year’s day, a day of spiritual stock-taking and laying out plans for the next 365 days of spiritual growth.

Source: The Free Press Journal