Yuga is a measurement of Time and here it refers to years. Aadi means beginning. So literally, Yugadi means the beginning of the year or The New year.
You will notice that, around this time of the year there is a change in the nature with trees growing new tender leaves and blossoming. Most of the Indian festivals are based on the changes in nature and Yugadi is certainly one of them.
Yugadi falls on Chaitra shuddha paadyami or 1st day of waxing moon in the Hindu month of Chaitra. In the Gregorian calendar, there is slight variation of Yugadi dates, as most on the Hindu Panchangs (Calendars) follow the lunar calendar.
It is interesting to note that The New Year is celebrated in various parts of India during March/April by different names, which are as follows:
|Area||Name of the Festival|
|Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh & Telangana||Yugadi/Ugadi|
|Manipur||Sajibu Nongma Panba|
|Tamil Nadu||Tamil Puthandu|
|North India( UP,HP,MP, Bihar& Hariyana)||Ram Navami|
|Bali and Indonesia||Nyepi|
Spiritual significance: According to the puranas, Bramha (the creator of Universe) started creating the Universe on this day, which marked Satyayug.
History: Shri Ram killed Wali on this day. King Shalivahana started his era called as Shalivahana Shake on this day as he vanquished his enemies. The Shakhas defeated the Huns on this day.
An interesting fact about Yugadi and the Gregorian calendar: Many civilizations of the world use to, and even now celebrate the new year during March/April time. Let us see what happens if you count March as first month:
March -1st Month
April -2nd month
May -3rd month
June -4th month
July -5th month
Aug -6th month
September -7th month. Here septa in Latin/Greek means seven. In Sanskrit, saptha means 7.
October -8th Month. Octa means 8 in Latin/Greek. That is you have names like octopus meaning eight footed animal. In Sanskrit ashta means eight.
November -9th month. In Greek Nov is nine. In Sanskrit Nava means nine.
December -10th month. Deci means 10 in Greek/Latin. Dasha in Sanskrit is 10. That is how we have Dashmukha name for Ravan, who had ten heads (he was equivalent to ten people).
January -11th month
February -12th month and it has less number of days as compared to all other months. One day is added to February (not to December) after every 4th year.
We still need to know more about how all the names of these months came in.
Preparations and activities on Yugadi
Torana: A chain or garland of fresh flowers and mango leaves (neem leaves in some places) is tied to main door of every house and main doors of market and public places. There are scientific reasons for this Torana. During festivals many people visit your home and more public gatherings happen, due to which infectious diseases can spread rapidly (as it is happening with corona virus now). Our ancestors knew that the mango leaves have many anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-allergic, anti-helminthic properties. (you can check google where there are lots of research papers on it. Mango leaf extract might be an answer for multidrug resistant bacteria in the future). During festivals, most people would travel through these main doors with mango leaf-chain (Torana) and this would act like a biological filter for microbes.
Rangoli: People put rangoli (designs with powder) in front of houses and temples during the festival. Cleaning of the houses is done few days before and some get their houses painted for this occasion.
Abhyanga (sabhyang) snana: This means oil massage and warm/hot water bath. Everyone takes this kind of bath on this day. Some people add neem leaves in the water. This bath helps the skin to be more healthy and soft. The neem leaves also have lot of medicinal properties, which include antiulcer, antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal, antimalarial and anticarcinogenic. (Pubmed article, Curr Med Chem anticancer agents 2005 March 5(2); 149-6. Also many other articles in google). People wear new clothes or at least washed clean clothes on this day after bath.
Pooja and prayers: In Maharashtra and some other parts people host the Bramha Dhwaja or Gudi hosting. Some people do special pooja, homa and havana (offerings to gods through fire) on this day. Many people visit temples and sing Bhajans in the evenings. People pray for their and their family members’ wellbeing.
Donations: People also give donations to poor on this day as a social responsibility. The farmers plough in their fields on this day and it is said to increase their yields.
Food: People prepare special dishes on this day. Yugadi bevu-bella/pachadi is a special dish. Pachadi is made of following different tastes, which represent different emotions of life. Neem, which has bitter taste representing bitterness of life; Jaggery, which has a sweet taste representing happiness of life; Tamarind, which has sour taste representing represents unpleasant phase of life; Mango (raw), which has a tangy taste symbolising unexpected and surprises of life; Salt, which representing fear of unknown; Chilli, which is hot symbolising anger and outburst in life. A few people share Bevu-Bella (bitter neem flower and sweet jaggery) with others. The whole idea of eating this special dish is to make aware of ourselves that we have to face all sorts of tastes/emotions in life.
Holige/Obbattu: It is a special sweet dish eaten with ghee or milk. Along with this, many vegetable dishes are prepared (kosumbari, aburgine curry, lentil curry and so on). The high amount of fibres in the vegetable dishes prevent constipation and other intestinal diseases.
In summary, Yugadi is the Hindu New Year with lots of activities.
Yugadi Quiz link: https://forms.gle/uEdoGkjgNUwC9Fni6