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Ugadi is also known as "Yugadi" and "Samvatsaradi". The festival marks the start of a new year and the beginning of the spring season. The day is important for all the people who live in the area that falls in between the Vindhya and Kaveri rivers. The people in this area follow the lunar calendar of south India. The people of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa are the ones who celebrate Ugadi with much pomp and show.
The other states also celebrate this day, but by different names. When the people of Andhra Pradesh, Telengana and Karnataka call the festival as Ugadi or Yugadi, the Marathi people know the festival as Gudi Padwa. The Marvadi community of Rajasthan calls the festival Thapna.
Also Read: Ways to celebrate the Ugadi festival
The Sindhis celebrate the festival as Cheti Chand. Sajibu Nongma Panba is the name that the Manipuris use for the day. The Hindu community of Indonesia, who are centered around Bali, celebrate their new year on the same day, but call it as Nyepi.
Whatever the name be, the 'Chaitra Shuddha Paadyami' or the day of Ugadi is the reason for celebration for a large sect of the Hindu people. Read on to know more about this festival of the new beginnings.
The festival of Ugadi or Yugadi is derived from the Sanskrit words, 'Yuga' which is a measure of time (a Year in this case) and 'Adi' means a start or a beginning. Therefore, the word ugadi means the start of a new year.
The people that celebrate this festival are the Kannadigas, Telugu, Marathi, Konkani and Kodavas. It is said that this celebration is spread over three states, which could be the result of the common rulers during the Satavahana Dynasty.
The festival of Ugadi celebrates the six tastes of a human life. Sweet, bitter, sour, spicy, salty and tangy, which are all a part of the festival and can be found in the dishes prepared on this day.
The legend goes that Ugadi is the day when Lord Brahma started the work of creation. It is said that he woke up early in the morning and his yawn created the four vedas. With that he started his creation.
Another legend that ties Lord Brahma to Ugadi is the story where it is said that one day of Lord Brahma's life equals a year for the humans. So, every year, Lord Brahma writes new fates for the people of the world. Therefore, it is considered auspicious to pray Lord Brahma on this day. Praying to Lord Brahma will bring you good luck and fortune during the rest of the year.
It is said that the wicked demon Somakasura stole the Vedas from Lord Brahma and hid them in the ocean. Without the Vedas, Lord Brahma couldn't continue with the creation. It was then that Lord Maha Vishnu took the Matsya Avatara and killed the Demon Somakasura. Lord Vishnu, then, restored the Vedas to Lord Brahma, enabling him to continue with the creation. This day is said to be commemorated as Ugadi.
It is a traditional practice to take oil bath on Ugadi day. The reason behind this is, it is believed that Goddess Lakshmi dwells in oil and Goddess Ganga dwells in the water on Ugadi. When you take an oil bath on Ugadi, you receive the blessings of both - Goddess Ganga and Goddess Lakshmi.
Also Read: Significance of neem and jaggery for Ugadi!
Sri Sahasra Nama Stotra extols Lord Maha Vishnu as 'Yugadi Krit' - the creator of Yugadi or the reason behind Yugadi. He is also called 'Yugaavarto', which means the one who causes the repetition of yugas.
"Yugadi-krit Yugaavarto Naikamaayo Mahashanah
Adeishyo Vyaktaroopashcha Sahasrajid Anandajit"
It is therefore, important to worship Lord Maha Vishnu on Ugadi day.
According to the solar-lunar calendar that the majority of South Indians follow, the day of "Chaitra Shuddha Paadyami" is celebrated as Ugadi. It is also notable that according to Telugu Panchangam or astrology, each era is a cycle of 60 years. Each year is given a name and it has some characteristic features specific to it. After a cycle of 60 years, the years repeat themselves. The Ugadi of 2017 is called Hevalambi. 2016 Ugadi was Durmukhi and 2018 will be called Vilambi.