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India: New Year Celebrations

New Year in March you ask? Well, yes in certain parts of India it the start of a new year since they follow a different calendar and not the Gregorian calendar that the western countries follow.

Ugadi, Gudi Padwa are some of the names for the New Year celebrations in India. The festival is not celebrated throughout India, but is celebrated in many southern and a couple of northern states of India. Typically, people heralded the new year by wearing new clothes, puja (prayer) and of course food, which is the standard staple of any Indian festival.

Any Indian celebration demands the use of flowers. The flowers used to adorn pictures of god, for prayers, and young girls and women adorn their braids with fragrant flowers. Rajesh Dangi of Bangalore writes that flower sales go up during the festival season. And he has a photo that goes with his posting. Notice the different kinds of flowers and garlands that includes jasmine, roses, and other fragrant flowers that bloom during this season.

Deepa Mohan has a wonderful picture (the photo appears pretty symbolic, complete with seeds, bud and flowers) of a traditional Indian tree and its blossom: gul mohar. Deepa writes, “…the flowers are symbolic of our past efforts blooming into success now, and the seed pod below stands for the seeds of actions, sown today, which will result in fresh blooms in the future.

KesavaIndia‘s post captures the spirit of the New Year in the Southern state of Andhra Pradesh. He writes about the significance of a dish called Ugadi Pachadi:

A special preparation called ugadi pachadi (chutney) is a must in very house. Fresh tamarind with fresh water, jaggery, fresh mangoes and fresh margosa flowers form the ingredients of Ugadi Pachadi. They are mixed in a new decorated earthen pot and then kept before the presiding deity of the house hold. After puja, everybody partakes of the Ugadi Pachadi and only then goes for meals in the company of all. The significance of this Pachadi is, the mixture of bitter margosa flowers and sweet jaggery is that life also is a mixture of sorrow and joy…

Vee of Past, Present and Me has a wonderful post on how Konkanis celebrate their New Year's called Gudi Padwa. She wonders why she tries to recreate her childhood experience of New Year's in the USA and writes,

And yet, I go through the steps and make the age old meal that we have had on every Sansar Padwa/Gudi Padwa/Ugadi. Conciously and subconciously, I follow the steps I have seen my mom and bapama take year after year…As familiar aromas waft through the suddenly active house, I see the look on my husband’s face. The same look that is echoed on mine. It is the look of comfort, of being home in a strange land, of the childhood gone by and the reluctant adult-hood that has been thrust upon us. Suddenly, I know.

If you are curious to see what a typical puja ceremony looks like, you can watch a video clip that I shot in Bangalore.

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