Thursday, March 30, 2006

Nutan varshabhinandan

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 festival is celebrated with extreme enthusiasm in Dombivli where there are very strong cultural emotions among the citizens. I too, had taken permission to go late to my office today and participated in the Nav-varsha swagat yatra which goes around Dombivli every year.
People started assembling from 06.00 hrs at Kanhoji Jedhe Maidan [Bhagshala Maidan - for most of you]. They were dressed up traditionally for the occassion. Sadhwi Rutumbhara was invited for the Gudi hosting ceremony at 06.30 hrs. After that, the procession started off in a very systematic and disciplined manner. By the time the last team in the procession left the originating site, it was almost 07.15 hrs !
People from all communities [prominently Maharashtrians, followed by Gujaratis, South Indians etc] participated in this procession. They had their own music and still, it was all very much united.
I was to leave for office by 07.30 hrs, but decided to stay on till late and participated in the entire swagat yatra. It was a wonderful experience and hope you will love the snaps here.

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