Heralding the Hindu New Year

By Bhiva P Parab
With Shigmo coming to an end it is now time to welcome the New Year. The arrival of the New Year is a great event in all religions and cultures and for the Hindus the most widely accepted New Year is the first day of the bright half of Chaitra month (March-April), the Gudi Padwa.

Like Vijayadasami, Balipratipada, Aksayatririya, Gudi Padwa is considered to be one of the three-and-half-auspicious days (called ‘sade teen muhurt’) in the Hindu Lunar calendar, whose every moment is considered auspicious.
Our country being a predominantly agrarian society celebrations are linked to the sowing and reaping of crops and festivals are often linked to the turn of the season in India. During this time of the year there is increase in the intensity of sun rays and so temperature increases and the paddy will be harvested. Gudi Padwa festival marks the beginning of the spring season and some say that the word ‘padwa’ might have its roots in the Sanskrit word for crop, which is ‘Pradurbhu’ and thus it is said that the Padwa Day also marks the end of one harvest and the beginning of a new one, which for an agricultural community would signify the beginning of a New Year.
The people of Goa celebrate the festival of Gudi Padwa with great joy and this day being considered very auspicious new ventures are begun, house-warming poojas are performed, and some people also buy property, gold, etc, on this day. With the increase in the temperature after Gudi Padwa various fruits like mango, jackfruit, ‘churna’ and ‘karangana’ begin to ripe in the state of Goa, which can be considered as the beginning of the new season. In Goa, on Gudi Padwa, one can find gudis prominently displayed on houses. A gudi is a pole on top of which an inverted pot called ‘kalash’ is placed and the gudi is decorated with flamboyant local flowers, mango leaves and a piece of cloth. These symbolise nature's bounty.
In Goa, Gudi Padwa is also known as Sanvosar Padwo and on this day at some places in Goa newlywed women prepare a sweet from ‘ghoti’ (coconut and a little rice) which is given to her by her mother during marriage and sweet which is prepared is distributed to neighbouring houses. The husband gifts her a new saree on the occasion. Houses are cleaned prior to the festival, in villages people plaster the courtyard of the house with cow dung and beautiful rangoli designs are made on the doorstep of the house. At various places in Goa, and especially in villages, the ‘wadi’ (various food items prepared at home are offered to God and ancestors on a plate made of jackfruit leaves) is offered to ancestors. In houses with a ‘galati’ (a small pot filled with water that is tied to a tulsi on Mahashivaratri Day) ‘wadi’ is offered to the tulsi today and the ‘galati’ is removed. Normally seven ‘wadis’ are prepared on that day of which the first is offered to Agni (fire) the second to Tulsi and the remaining five are offered to ancestors.
In Mopa in the Pernem taluka, Gudi Padwa is celebrated in a unique manner. On this auspicious day villagers of Mopa celebrate the Giroba Utsav. The Giroba Utsav begins with the performing of the puja by two ‘mankaris’, one from the Naik Gaonkar family and other from the Parab family, of the Holi at Baracho Chawatho. This ‘Amaychi Holi’ (mango tree Holi) is then cut. This unique celebration has been followed by the villagers here since ancient times. At a height of about 32 inches from the base the Holi cut. From 32 inches of the base the Chari family carves the image of God Giroba. The process of carving takes around four hours and then the carved image is coloured. Earlier natural colours were used, however today readymade colours are used.
Once the image is carved and coloured then it is worshipped. ‘Garane’ is also put on the occasion. On Giroba Utsav auction also takes place at the venue of celebrations. There is also a tradition wherein married girls from the Mopa village offer a coconut and cockerel on this occasion. Married girls come to their mother’s house on this day for the Giroba Utsav to make the offering. The villagers of Mopa celebrate this Utsav with traditional fervour which includes the staging of a ‘natak’ (drama) at night.
There are various stories associated with Gudi Padwa and according to Brahma Purana Lord Brahma recreated the world on this day and time began to tick from the sunrise of this day. The ‘gudi’ stood as a victory flag for the people of Ayodhya and the ‘gudi’ on the house also symbolises expression of happiness of the people of Ayodhya on return of Lord Rama after defeating Ravana. Some of the Maharashtrians also see the ‘gudi’ as a symbol of victory associated with Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. There is also a belief that the displaying of the gudi keeps evil at bay and brings prosperity and good luck into the house.
On this day it is recommended to listen to the reading of the Hindu ‘Panchanga’ (almanac), which may help listeners prepare themselves for any untoward incidents.