It was the eve of ‘Gudi Padva’ (A day that marks the new year according to the Hindu lunar calendar welcoming the month of ‘Chaitra’) and I was trundling back home in a regular ‘Kaali peeli’ (public mode of transport in Mumbai city) from the Dadar market. The market looked busier than ever, and I wondered why! Curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to ask my taxi driver the reason for such a crowd that day. He gladly responded in an accent laden with heavy Maharastrian intonation, stating, ‘Kya madam, kal Gudi Padwa hai na?’ (Really? You didn’t know it is Gudi Padva tomorrow?).
The only time I have seen this part of town getting busy is during Diwali. But this indeed was a sight to behold. I stopped the cab and got off! I picked myself the traditional ‘Gudi Padva Puja Thali’ costing approximately $10/-. I was simply enthused by my purchase and made my way back home. I was all set to hoist the elements of my ‘thali’ (steel plate) onto a bamboo stick, at the entrance of my house, early next morning. The implements comprise of a brocaded sari (I opted for a bright yellow and orange coloured one), a small copper pot, vermilion, and some flowers.
Image credit: NDTV.com
After concluding with the Puja, I set out on the streets to see what exactly was happening around the city of Mumbai. My friend and I went to Girgaum Chowpatty. This locale is home to a large gamut of the Marathi speaking clan. A festive spirit filled the air. The locals had set out in their traditional attire welcoming the New Year with gusto. Every year the government organizes a parade, involving the participation of men, women and children from the age of 6 to 45 years. The highlights include the noteworthy participation of 70 women clad in their customary, colourful 9-yard sari (also called the Navaari sari). The look is completed with a turban as worn by the famed Marathi Peshwas’s back in the time. These women are seen riding Enfield’s. The women here state that by participating in the rally they are now empowering the women of Maharashtra with the energies of the Goddess of Strength (Devi- Shakti). The means are modern and innovative all the same. It signifies that women today stand as equals to men even in the Indian society.
Image credit: Redcliff.com
Other men, women and children accompany the rally as they partake in the ritualistic ‘Lavni’ dance. ‘Malkham’ artists are seen performing acrobats as the march moves at a gradual pace. The music invigorates the spirit of every Mumbaikar. The pulse involves the rhythmic chimes from an age-old instrument called ‘Lezim’, which is accompanied by the beat from huge drums called the ‘Dhol’. Over the years, efforts have been made to revive the practice on the ‘Lezim’, and partakers have made a successful revival at that. Effigies of great Maratha leaders and other historical figures accompany the rally inspiring young minds and giving onlookers peek into glorious Maratha past.
Other highlights include the traditional artwork that pans across 18000 sq. feet completed in an array of colourful powders at the ‘Gamdevi Maidan’. It is interesting to note how these artisans co-ordinate together in a team, and finish the entire ‘Rangoli,’ in a matter of approximately 40 minutes. Their hands move so fast that their fingers become a blur.
Image credit: Art with Creativity
The ‘Gudi’ (as it is traditionally called) signifies victory over evil. Hence, by default it is considered a very auspicious day. Bazars and malls are bustling with people as shops lure their customers with exquisite ‘Gudi Padva’ offers.
Over the years ‘Gudi Padva’ marks several auspicious occasions according to the Hindu mythology. In fact, the celebrations happen in every community in some form or the other.
- The festival marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Hindu calendar.
- It also marks the birth of planet Earth; hence we invoke the blessings of Lord Bhrama (the creator). The ‘Gudi’ is also called the ‘Indradhwaj’ or ‘Bhramadhwaj’, which means the flag of Lord Bhrama.
- ‘Gudi Padva’, marks the onset of spring. Many farmers plough the new seed in their field on this auspicious day.
- ‘Gudi Padva’, marks the coronation of Lord Ram on his return from exile, to Ahyodhya, after 14 years.
- According to Maratha History, ‘Gudi Padva’ also marks the victory of King Shalivahana over the Sakas.
- ‘Gudi Padva’ is also known as ‘Ugadi’ in the southern parts of the Subcontinent.
- People of the Sindhi community invoke the blessing of ‘Lord Jhulelal’, and celebrate ‘Cheti Chand’.
- The Gujarati’s mark the onset of the ‘Chaitra’ month with bitter Neem flower juice. The juice is believed to cool the system, and also gets rid of unwanted toxins.
Image Credit: HungryForever.com
So I wrap this up on a sweet note, as I enjoy the ‘Gudi Padva’ goodies that comprising of delicious ‘Shrikhand-Poori’ (sweet saffron infused yogurt, accompanied with deep fried wheat breads that look like a ball), ‘Pulanpuri’ (a sweetened lentil stuffed bread complete with dry fruits and saffron), and ‘Basundi’ (Home-made condensed milk topped off with saffron and dry fruits). Wishing all you beloved readers a happy ‘Gudi Padva’! May the new year bring you truck loads of good luck, health, wealth and happiness.
Written by Heer Kothari