Unique Ugadi traditions

Unique Ugadi traditions
Ugadi, which heralds the beginning of the new year, has special significance in rural Karnataka. While the festival signifies the onset of spring, considered to be the most colourful of all seasons, it also marks the beginning of agricultural activities. It is the end of the leisure period for farmers, after which they start preparing for the next farming season. Ugadi is also considered to be the first festival in nature’s annual cycle.

There are many practices linked to this festival. In Tumakuru and Chitradurga regions, village people watch the young moon in the evening. They link the sides of the moon to the season’s harvest, and predict that the harvest will be good in the direction of the upper end of the moon and the harvest will be average in the direction of the lower end.

In Kanakapura area, people call the sides as horns, and name the two ends as golden horn and rice horn. Again, they decide which of these two will be costlier in the year based on the position of the horn. On the same day, panchanga (Hindu almanac) is read out in the presence of village elders. Along with rain and crop predictions, questions about horoscope are also asked on the
occasion.

In South Karnataka, Ugadi is celebrated for three days. The first day, called musure habba, is dedicated to cleaning the house. On the second day, people wear new dress, distribute bevu-bella (neem and jaggery preparation) and make special dishes. The day is rightly called sihi aduge. The third day is called hosataduku. Non-vegetarian food is prepared on the day, and symbolically villagers go on hunting in teams.

In North Karnataka, farmers plough the land symbolically on Ugadi. It is called gale hodeyuvudu. We can also see people putting neem leaves in hot water used for taking oil bath. In Nippani area, where Marathi influence is more, the festival is called as Gudi Padwa. On that day, people fix a wooden pole in front of each house. A copper pot is placed on top of the pole and neem leaves are tied to the pole.

Another interesting tradition associated with Ugadi is germination test. Nine days ahead of the festival, farmers fill a bamboo basket with soil and cow dung, and sow nine types of grains. This set-up is called jagara. They water the seeds everyday. On the festival day, all the jagaras are brought to one place, where village elders examine each basket. Based on the quality and quantity of the sprouts, they decide which crop is more suitable for the next season and opt for it. In Shettikere village of Tumakuru district, Ugadi is associated with a unique practice. In the evening, people put various grains grown in the region in a mud pot and keep it in a public place. A plough tied to cattle is made to push the pot. The grain that falls at the farthest distance is considered to bring good fortune as crop in that year. 

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