New Year is celebrated in different states of India under various names, for e.g. Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Gudi Padava in Maharashtra. The Sindhis celebrate it as Cheti chand.
Gudi means a banner raised to announce victory and joy and "Padva" is another name for "Pratipada" which is the first day of a lunar month.The Maharashtrian New Year's Day is celebrated in March/April, on the first day of the Hindu month - Chaitra and marks the beginning of spring or "Vasant". This day is said to be the one on which Lord Brahma created the world after deluge. It is a day of great festivity and rejoicing as it commemorates the triumphant expeditions of the Maratha armies of the great Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the most beloved leader of the Maharashtrians. It is a day when the brave Marathas returned home from their successful expeditions of war.
People get up early and clean their houses, decorating them with intricate rangoli (colored rice flour designs for the floor) designs. This worship to the "Gudi" is supposed to drive away evil from the house and are expected to usher in prosperity and good fortune.
A brightly colored silk cloth is first tied to a wooden pole with a brass or silver goblet or kalash is placed upturned atop it. Then garlands of sweet sugary battasa, neem leaves and orange -yellow marigold flowers are tied to the pole. This is called the "Gudi". The "Gudi" or decorated pole is placed where it can be seen by passers by.
This auspicious day also marks the beginning of the consumption of summer foods like melons, jack-fruit, mangoes , sprouted gram and more. A variety of sherbets such as Mango Panha and special sweets like Puran Poli are served. Traditional Maharashtrians have the custom of eating a couple of bitter neem leaves fried in ghee and mixed with sugar. They are eaten on Gudi Padva to ensure good health. The neem paste is believed to purify the blood and build up immunity in the body against diseases.
Gudi Padva is considered one of the auspicious days in the year when people start new ventures and we are signing the legal documents for formation of NerdIndians! today.