Ugadi in City of Palaces

Ugadi is much more than just a change of calendar or season in the old Mysore region.

Mysore city has been the home of authentic ‘panchangas’ or the Hindu almanacs. Ugadi being the start of the Hindu calendar year, it is obvious that the almanac is an inseparable part of the festivities. The most famous of the ‘panchangas’ are the ‘aramane panchanga’ or the palace almanac that is published by the palace astrologers and the more popular ‘vontikoppal panchanga’ that has traditionally been published by a family of astrologers.

There are special poojas performed in the palace on the occasion. A musical programme is also organised as part of Ugadi in the Palace premises.

‘Panchanga shravana’ or the reading of the almanac at temples and homes forms a significant part of the festival. Priests or astrologers give the lowdown to the gathering about the fortunes and disasters that are likely to occur in the year or the ‘samvatsara’ ahead. After all, the message of ‘Ugadi’ has always been about taking the joys and sorrows of life with equanimity and the same is symbolised by people consuming ‘bevu-bella’ a mixture of neem flowers and jaggery to denote the bitter and sweet aspects of the roller coaster ride called life.

New is in the air on the Hindu New Year day and most people celebrate it by buying new things, prominently new clothes, and no wonder, textile showrooms make brisk business prior to the festivities. They woo as many customers as possible by offering discounts on a range of items, both traditional and modern, for men and women.

The market is abuzz with festival shoppers, buying various things for the festival. Homes are decorated with neem and mango leaves to go with the festival which heralds spring season or ‘Vasantha’ ruthu.

In fact, one can feel the onset of the season with plants and trees taking on a new green hue as they regenerate after shedding old leaves in autumn. Ugadi celebration is rather incomplete without the variety of dishes that are prepared on the occasion, including ‘holige’ a sweet pancake made of jaggery and turdal.

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