New Delhi: April is here and with it come many auspicious days and festivals that are marked during the month of celebration. Today, April 2, this year marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year and coincides with Chaitra Navratri Day 1 respective. Because India is a diverse country, different regions have different names to start New Year celebrations according to the Hindu calendar.
Ugadi, Cheti Chand, Navreh and Gudi Padwa, among others, are widely celebrated in India. Today, let’s give you a close up on how the country welcomes the Hindu New Year in different regions.
The first day of the month Chaitra (March-April) is celebrated over Jammu and Kashmir as Navreh or Kashmiri New Year. It is widely celebrated by the Kashmiri Pandit community where people greet everyone they meet with a warm “Navreh Mubarak” (Happy New Year)!
Navreh comes from the Sanskrit word “Nava-Varsha”, which means New Year. It is common to prepare a plate full of unpeeled rice with bread, a small bowl of yogurt, salt, sugar candy, some walnuts or almonds, a silver coin and a note of 10 Rs would also do, a pencil, a mirror, some flowers ( rose, marigold, crocus or jasmine) and the new Panchanga or almanac. One must also keep Kashmiri Jantri (a Panchang book that has an account of all the important dates according to the Kashmiri tradition).
Interestingly, all this is prepared during the night itself because the first thing in the morning is to look at this plate and then start the day. Kashmiri Pandits observe the same ritual of preparing the plate and watching it in the morning Sonth or Kashmir’s Spring Festival.
According to Kashmir’s Hindu calendar, the Saptarshi era is believed to have begun on the same day, about 5079 years ago.
Legend has it that the famous Saptarishis flocked together on Sharika Parvat, also known as Hari Parbat in Kashmir – revered as the divine abode of the goddess Sharika, in the auspicious moment when the first ray of sunshine fell on Chakreshvara this day and paid tribute to her.
At Navreh, Kashmiri Pandit visited the shrine of Hari Parbhat to seek the blessings of the goddess Sharika. The children also wear new clothes to celebrate the new year and so do the older ones!
This auspicious festival will be celebrated today this year in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh as people welcome the new year by placing a Gudi outside their door or window. The occasion is usually observed on the first day of the month Chaitra and in Konkani communities it is celebrated as Samwatsara. On the other hand, in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, it is known as Ugadi.
People celebrate this auspicious day by decorating their thresholds with Rangoli and a toran made of mango leaves. Prayers and flowers are offered to Gudi after placing it on the window or door. After this, people perform aarti and put Akshat on Gudi.
Ugadi marks the new year according to the Hindu calendar in parts of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka. This day, dressed in their best features, men, women and children decorate their homes and indulge in grand festivities. Family members, friends and neighbors meet to celebrate by greeting each other and exchanging sweets and Prasadam. People also visit temples to pray to the Almighty and seek blessings at the opportune time.
One of the most important quite significant preparations this day is Ugadi Pachchadi (made from jaggery, raw mango and neem leaves / flowers) which tastes sweet, sour and bitter. This recipe is usually prepared at home to remind people that they must embrace pain and ecstasy with grace because life is a mixture of both happy and sad moments.
It is known as the Sindhi New Year and is celebrated mainly by Sindhi Hindus in India and Pakistan. The festival coincides with the second day of Chaitra Shukla Paksha in the Hindu calendar. And because the moon on this day appears only after a day without the moon, it is called Cheti Chand. This day is also known as Jhulelal Jayanti, dedicated to a deity considered to be the incarnation of the Hindu deity Varuna.
Here we all wish a very happy Navreh, Gudi Padwa, Cheti Chand and Ugadi!