Ugadi marks the beginning of a new Hindu lunar calendar and is the festival for New Year’s day. The new year begins in the month of Chaitra, which corresponds to March/April. The festival therefore represents new beginnings and new life. The festival is celebrated somewhat differently by the people of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, who term the festival Ugadi, and those of Maharashtra, who term the festival Gudi.

For those that celebrate Ugadi day, rising early, bathing and decorating the entrance of the home with fresh mango leaves is characteristic. There is then an extended family gathering and an elaborate feast. Gudi refers to a bamboo staff that contains a colored sik cloth and is topped by a goblet with a garland. The gudi symbolizes achievement. For those who celebrate Gudi, the day begins with bathing and prayer and is followed by a special mean that contains bitter, tangy, sour, spicy, sweet and salty tastes that symbolize the diversity of life experiences. The meal is followed by a reading from a sacred text that is believed to bring good fortune in the coming year.

Profile prepared by Josh Jolly
May, 2009