Gudi Padwa: A Celebration Of Victory?

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Gudi Padwa
Gudi padwa is celebrated as the Marathi new year. It comes on the first day of the Chaitra month in the lunar calender used by Indians. Due to their ancient nature, Indian festivals have a very intriguing history with them. This festival is no exception. There are a varied number of theories that explain the Marathi new year that is called Ugadi across the Vindhiyas. Two other major states, Andhra and Karnataka celebrate their new year on this day. But the stories are completely different.

Here are some of the interesting stories that explain the customs of Gudi Padwa as they are.

Gudi Padwa Is A Celebration Of..

1. Shivaji Maharaj's Victory March:
Let us begin with the most recent story. The hero worship of Maratha king Shivaji is such amongst the Marathi community that he is almost like a deity here. So this day is celebrated in the honour of the great king who established a wide kingdom across western India. That is probably the reason for worshiping the 'gudi', a flag like cloth that is raised when an army is declared victorious.

2. The Harvest Festival: As India is a primarily agrarian society, most of the festivals and important dates are associated with sowing and harvesting of crops. This Indian festival marks the end of the Rabi crop for the season. The produce is mainly fruits and mangoes are the star crop. Gudi Padwa is the time you start seeing deliciously ripe mangoes in the market.

3. The Creation Of Universe: This myth of 'creation' is a recurrent one in Hindu rituals. Most new year celebrations are dedicated to the new beginning of an era (yuga). The specific story of this celebration is also attributed to Lord Brahma creating the world in which we live.

4. To Which God Is It Dedicated: Most Indian festivals are celebrated in honour of some god or the other. After we have 33 million gods, there needs to be due occasion to celebrate at least a few. Strangely, this festival is not really dedicated to any god in particular. However, the Preserver of the Universe, Vishnu, makes quite a few appearances in the stories.

5. The Vishnu Myths: It is fabled that Vishnu incarnated in his Matsya or fish form on this day. This avatar or incarnation of Vishnu was to save the earth from destruction by water (pralaya). The story is something on the lines of Noah's Ark. Another story goes that Lord Rama slayed King Vali on this day. As Rama is also an incarnation of Vishnu in the mortal world, the reference can be taken accordingly.

Today, Gudi Padwa is a new year celebration like any other where people pray for the victory of good over evil. So it can be been a victorious celebrations that synthesises all these myths into its essence.

Read more about: festivals, hindu rituals
Story first published: Thursday, March 22, 2012, 15:33 [IST]
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