One of the most auspicious dates in the Hindu calendar, Gudi Padwa is essentially a Maharashtrian festival. It is the New Year Day for the natives of Maharashtra who celebrate Chaitra Shukla Pratipada as Gudi Padwa. The contemporary Hindu calendar is a lunar-solar annual roll with symbolic events marked as per the phase of moon. The word Padwa is derived from Sanskrit word, Padhavo meaning the brightest phase of moon. The Marathas began the tradition of unfurling their flag on the first day of Chaitra Navaratri and since then it has always been referred to as Gudi Padwa.
Pratipada is the first day after Amavasya marking the first Tithi of Chaitra. The oldest reference of this day is mentioned in Brahma Purana where Lord Brahma created the Universe and the New Year started. It is one of the three and a half auspicious days. The other two are Akshaya Tritya and Vijaya Dashami.
Another mythological legend connects Gudi Padwa with Ramayana. Lord Rama killed Vali on the first day of Chaitra. The Shalivahana calendar commences with the auspicious event of Gudi Padwa marking the triumph of Gautamiputra Shatakarni. History accounts the defeat of Huns at the hands of Shakas on the very day.
Even in modern history of Maharashtra, Chaitra Navratri regained its importance by virtue of Shivaji Maharaj’s idea of uniting the Deccan into one power. He was the first to place a gudi on top of his forts on Chaitra Padavo. Since then it has been celebrated as Gudi Padwa across Maharashtra to commemorate the efforts of Shivaji and the Marathas.
Owing to its Hindu origin, Gudi Padwa is celebrated in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu and Konkan belts. The Konkani community in Goa, Karnataka and Kerala celebrate this day as Samvatsar Padvo and Yugadi Padvo. It is celebrated as Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh. Even in Kashmir, Gudi Padva is an auspicious event feted as Navreh. The Sindhi community, one of the oldest communities in Indian sub-continent observe Cheti Chand this day.
Like all Hindu festivals, Gudhi Padwa too is a symbol of India’s agrarian sector. It marks the beginning of the harvesting season till Pehla Baisakh. At dawn of the day, a beautifully decorated earthen or brass pot is placed in an inverted position over the top end of the stick. The stick is wrapped with coloured clothes and silver threads. The gudi is then displayed from the highest point of the house. Mango leaves, neem leaves, betel, rice grains, tamarinds, jiggery and flower garland also adorn the gudi. It symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. Swastik is drawn on the pot with vermillion paste. It is a mark of Brahma Pataka which means Flag of the Brahmalok. It is also called as Indra Dhwaj. It is believed that Arjuna carried the same flag on his chariot when he fought Mahabharata with Lord Krishna as his charioteer. Even Ramayana highlights the use of Gudi as a symbol of Lord Rama’s army.
In terms of Vaastu Sastra, the Gudi is placed on the right entrance and protects the home from evil eyes.
For Maharashtrians, Gudi Padva is a state holiday and marks the beginning of the feasting period till Akshaya Tritya.
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