The Ugadi festival marks New Year’s Day in the Luni-Solar calendar. It is mainly celebrated in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka states. In Maharashtra, it is celebrated as Gudi Padwa by the Marathas. The Ugadi/Gudi Padwa festival is celebrated in the region between the Kaveri River and Vindhya Mountains, where the southern Luni-Solar calendar is followed. In the Luni-Solar calendar, months and days in a year are calculated by the positions of both the Sun and the Moon compared to only the planet Sun in the Solar Calendar. Thus Ugadi or Gudi Padwa marks the astrological new year for the people of these regions and is celebrated with huge fanfare. It is also known as Yugadi in Karnataka.

When is Ugadi / Gudi Padwa 2021

The Ugadi 2021 date is determined by calculating the position of the Moon. The day that follows the first New Moon after the Spring Equinox is celebrated as the new year or Ugadi.

In 2021, the Spring Equinox falls on March 20th, Saturday, while the Ugadi/Gudi Padwa falls on April 13th, Tuesday.

Ugadi event is a public holiday in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana regions. Ugadi marks the beginning of a new Samvatsara. There are 60 Samvatsaras in a cycle, and each Samvatsara bears a unique name. The 2021 Samvatsara is called the Plava Nama Samvatsara, meaning the year of wisdom and knowledge. The famed mathematician Bhaskaracharya determined the date of Ugadi using astronomical calculations in the 12th century. 

What is the Astrological Relevance of Ugadi?

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The Ugadi festival falls on the first day of the Chaitra month – the first month of the Hindu lunisolar calendar. In the Gregorian calendar, it typically falls in March or April. The term Ugadi (Yug-adi) means ‘the beginning of a new age. It is derived from the Sanskrit words ‘yuga’, which means age and ‘adi’ which means beginning. Ugadi marks the first day of the first Shukla paksha (waxing phase) of the astrological new year. This same occasion is observed as New Year by certain communities in North India too. For example, the Sindhis observe this occasion as ‘Cheti Chand’, their new year festival. The lunar day in a region starts and ends according to the Moon’s positions with respect to that region.

The Ugadi festival, known as Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra, is sometimes observed a Gregorian day earlier. Unlike the Solar calendars, Luni-Solar calendars consider the positions of the Moon and the Sun to divide the year into months and days. Thus, the New Year falls twice in the Luni-Solar calendars and is celebrated in different names and different traditions in India’s various regions. Ugadi marks the beginning of not a year but a Samvatsara. One Samvatsara is the time taken by Jupiter to travel across one sign in the Ugadi horoscope, which is about one year. With each sign, Jupiter is either nearer or further from the Earth and causes consequent effects on its population. Each Samvatsara is unique till Jupiter circles the Zodiac a total of five times, that is, sixty Samvatsaras. At that time, both Jupiter and Saturn reach the 0-degree of Aries and mark the end of one cycle and the next one. 

The legend behind Ugadi

In pre-ancient times, during Satya Yuga, humanity had lost all moral virtues and lived like animals. So Lord Vishnu decided to end the world with a deluge. Lord Brahma was to start a new civilization then. Key instructions towards this new civilization were handed over to Lord Brahma by Lord Vishnu in Vedas. A demon called Somakasura stole the Vedas from Brahma and hid them deep in the Ocean. Lord Vishnu took the Matsya Avatara, killed the demon and retrieved the Vedas. Having got back the Vedas, Lord Brahma started the creation of the new world on Ugadi day. Another legend says that the occasion commemorates the coronation of Rama in Ayodhya after his victory over Ravana.

Going by astrology, the Ugadi day was the most auspicious time to start the new emperor’s reign. The nine-day long spring festival of Vasanta Navratri begins on this day and concludes on Ram Navami. Yet another legend is Lord Krishna left his mortal abode on Ugadi day. Since it is generally believed that Lord Krishna’s death signalled the arrival of Kali Yuga, Ugadi day also signifies the start of Kali Yuga. It has to be noted that Ugadi day marks the only auspicious occasion in Vedic culture where Lord Brahma is worshipped for his role in the sustenance of the world. 

Ugadi Celebrations

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The festival is celebrated by Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Kodava, Tulu and Konkani diaspora in various parts of India with great fanfare. They make it an occasion for family gatherings and have sumptuous feasts. The celebrations include drawing colourful patterns on the floor called Kolamulus (Kannada: Rangoli), decorating entrance doors with mango leaves called Toranalu (Kannada: Toranagalu), buying and giving new clothes, having a special bath followed by oil treatment, visiting temples, giving charity to the poor and preparing and sharing some particular food items. On Ugadi, it’s a tradition to clean the front of their houses with water, apply cow dung paste and draw colourful floral designs. Also, people decorate their front doors with mango leaves.

Preparing special dishes such as pulihora, bobbatlu (bhakshalu/polelu/oligalu), burelu and pachadi is a major tradition. Raw mango available in plenty during this time of the year, may form an important ingredient to these food items. Among the special Ugadi dishes, Pachadi is the most notable one. It’s a chutney-like dish with ingredients providing all flavours/tastes – sweet, sour, tangy and bitter. It is a symbolic reminder that one must expect complex life phases and face all types of experiences in the coming new year. Jaggery or brown sugar, neem flowers, salt, tamarind or raw mango form the ingredients of pachadi, which give all the different tastes.

Importance of Gudi Padwa

The Gudi padwa celebrations in Maharashtra are similar to the Ugadi or Yugadi celebrations. Gudi Padwa was coined from the words ‘gudi’, which means flag and ‘pāḍavā’ derived from the Sanskrit word ‘pratipad’, meaning the first day of the lunar fortnight. A special Gudi flag garlanded with flowers, mango and neem leaves and topped with an upturned silver or copper vessel will be erected on this day. It stands for victory and prosperity. The Gudi Padwa festival signifies the approach of spring and the harvest of rabi crops. It was on this day in 78 A.D. that Gautamiputra Satakarni of the Shalivahan dynasty defeated the Sakas. The legendary warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji re-started the celebration of Gudi Padwa after his victory over the Mughals. Today Gudi Padwa is celebrated with much enthusiasm in Maharashtra and Goa. Families decorate their homes in anticipation of an excellent year ahead. Bright coloured clothes are worn, and people spend the day laughing and refreshing happy memories from the past. 

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