For bittersweet moments of life

Mixed emotions

It’s time for a brand new beginning. It’s time to welcome the new year with open arms. As the City celebrates the festival of Ugadi today, there is a festive fervour in the air.

Metrolife speaks to a few people from various communities to find out what does Ugadi mean to them and what type of food is prepared on this day?

For all the communities celebrating Ugadi, the day begins with an oil bath followed by prayers. For Maharashtrians, the festival is called Gudi Padwa and is celebrated with great festivity.

Prabha Salanky, a homemaker, says, “There isn’t much of a difference between the ways in which Ugadi is celebrated in Maharashtra and Karnataka. In Maharashtrian homes, the gudi (a bamboo pole) is kept at home. Mango and neem leaves are tied around it and a red cloth is also tied on top of it. It is then erected like a flag.” 

Like Kannadigas, Maharashtrians also prepare a mixture of neem leaves, raw mango and jaggery. “This is kept as a naivedhya in the beginning and is consumed as a prasada later. It holds great significance as it not only symbolises the bitter-sweet experiences of life, but also acts as a protector. With summer on in full swing, diseases like chicken pox are on the rise. So the neem increases our immunity and protects us from these diseases,” she explains. 

Even for people from Andhra Pradesh, Ugadi is one of the most important festivals. Says Yesheswani, a Maharashtrian married to a Telugu, “When it comes to food, holiges are prepared in most Telugu households just like the Kannadiga homes. We also prepare a sweet and sour mixture consisting of hurugadile powder, neem leaf and sugar/jaggery to symbolise the bitter-sweetness of life.” 

K R Venkatesh, a manager at Bosch, is a Kannadiga and celebrates Ugadi with great grandeur every year. “I start my day by wishing my relatives over the phone or sending them a message. Then I have an oil bath and perform puja,” he says. “I have been enjoying the festival since I was a kid. Those days, I would look forward to it due to the new clothes. Even today, I ensure that at least one of the clothes I am wearing is new,” he laughs. 

As far as food is concerned, holiges and obbattus are the order of the day for all Ugadi celebrations. “My daughter-in-law and wife also make kheer and other rice preparations. The bevu-bella mixture is distributed to signify that life is a mixture of happiness, sorrow and leisure,” he says. “Wherever you go, you should go with your family and not alone. It’s a belief that whatever is practised on the first day of the new year remains throughout the rest of the year. It’s such a beautiful festival and I hope the coming generations keep it alive,”  he sums up. 

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