KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
This explanation of Gudi Padwa was printed in the Herald, Monday March 19, 2007:
"Gudi Padwa" or "Ugadi" is celebrated in this region (Maharashtra, Andra Pradesh and Karnataka) as the first day of the Hindu New Year. The festival marks the beginning of the spring season and is celebrated with great spirit and joy. Houses are cleaned prior to the festival, colourful rangoli designs are drawn at entrances, new clothes are worn on this day and families gather to enjoy special delicacies.
Traditionally, bittersweet leaves of the neem tree are eaten. A paste made of the crushed neem leaves, cumin seeds, jaggery (from sugarcane) and salt is taken before any food in the morning. A gudi is hung outside the house or in the neighbourhood.
A gudi is a pole on the top of which an upturned brass or silver pot called a kalash is placed. The gudi is covered with a colourful silk cloth and decorated with marigold flowers, coconuts, and mango leaves to symbolize nature's bounty. The gudi is worshipped by offering sandalwood paste, turmeric and vermillion. Then, boys and young men form a pyramid and the person on the top breaks the coconut which is in the kalash.
Gudi Padwa is considered a very auspicious day - new ventures are begun, house warming poojas are performed and people may choose this day to purchase gold or new property. For both parents and children, it is a day off work and school. This is the time of year when the sun's rays increase in intensity, going from mellow to hot. The crops have been harvested and are making their way to the marketplaces. Mangoes, the king of fruit, ripening to orange under the sun's warmth, are in season once again. The ripe smell of jackfruit fills the air. Shrubs and trees are bursting into flower. Everything is fresh and new and everything looks and smells like spring - or the best imitation of the quintessential springtime that the India climate can do."