This festival is known as Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra and Ugadi in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It has become a custom to hold Kavi Sammelans (Poetry recitals) on this day.
Gudi Padwa is considered one of the foremost auspicious day in the year when people start new ventures. It is believed that Lord Brahma, created the world on this day and so he is worshiped especially at this time.
Lord Vishnu too is said to have incarnated as Matsya, the fish, on this day.
A gudi (banner) with a swastika marked metal pot and silk cloth is raised to announce victory and joy. In Maharashtra, it is reminiscent of the valiant Marathas returning home from their successful expeditions of war. Maharashtrians take the opportunity to honour their favourite leader, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj on the occasion.
On the festival day, people decorate their houses with mango leaves and ‘rangoli’ designs, and pray for a prosperous new year. They visit the temples to see the yearly calendar ‘Panchangasravanam’ as priests make predictions for the upcoming year.
It is a tradition to serve bitter leaves of neem tree with jaggery as Prasad on Ugadi / Gudi Padwa.
Gudi Padwa is considered as an auspicious occasion to make investments like buying a house, jewellery and other new things.
The festival is celebrated when the summers begin and the time for harvesting the crop arrives. The fragrance of ripening mangoes, jackfruit and other seasonal fruits fill the air with sweet smell.
Gudi Padwa, also known as Ugadi, is celebrated on the first day of the Hindu month of Chaitra shukla Padyami, which corresponds to end of March or beginning of April according to the Gregorian calendar. This festival marks the beginning of ‘Vasant’ or spring as well. The word ‘padwa’ is a Sanskrit word for crop, which literally means ‘Pradurbhu.’ This 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. Gudi Padwa is celebrated at the end of the Rabi season.
Indian society is largely dependent on agriculture and that is the reason that harvests are celebrated with much fun and frolic in the country.