Gudi Padwa is celebrated on the first day of the Chaitra month. Gudi Padwa is celebrated as the New Year day by Maharashtrians.
Gudi Padwa is also known as Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. This festival marks the beginning of the spring season. People celebrate this festival with great spirit and joy.
Houses are cleaned prior to the festival. Colourful rangoli designs are drawn at entrances. New clothes are worn on this day. There is a family gathering and Maharashtrian delicacies are prepared for everyone. The Maharashtrians make puran poli or sweet rotis, soonth pak and usal.
Traditionally, bittersweet leaves of the neem tree are eaten on this day. A paste of crushed neem leaves, cumin seeds, jaggery and salt is taken before eating any food in the morning.
On this day, gudis are hung outside the houses or in the localities. A 'gudi' is a pole on the top of which an upturned brass or silver pot called a kalash is placed. The gudi is covered with a colourful silk cloth and decorated with marigold flowers, coconuts, and mango leaves that symbolize nature's bounty. Gudi is worshipped by offering sandalwood paste, turmeric and vermilion. Then, boys and young men of the locality form a pyramid and the person on top of the pyramid breaks the coconut which is in the kalash. Gudhi also known as Brahmadhwaj (Flag of Lord Brahma) is a symbol of happiness, joy, glory, celebration of victory.
As per Hindu mythology Lord Brahma, created the Universe on this day & hence it is believed to be the beginning of the Universe.
Therefore, It is an ideal day to start a new business, buy a new house, buy a new vehicle, make an investment etc... So also it is considered one of the best auspicious days for Maunji bandhan (Thread Ceremony), which marks the beginning of Brahmacharya Aashram (Student Life), to get married, which marks the beginning of Gruhastha Ashram (Married Life) and all other religious or cultural rituals.
It is customary to worship the photo of Lord Ganesh on the front cover page of Panchang (Marathi Ephemeris) and read the astrological predictions (Sanvatsar Fal) for that Lunar Year beginning on First day of Chaitra and ending on the last day. Goddess Saraswati is also worshipped.
This is one of the 3 and a half days in the Hindu Lunar calendar, whose every moment is considered auspicious.
On this day a mixture of following elements is prepared and ground to make a homogeneous paste.
Hing , Mith (Salt), Jeere (Cumin seeds), Owa, Sakahr (Sugar), Kadubinb Leaves & blossom. This mixture is very good for health.
After the Pooja a favorite sweet dish is prepared as Naivedya (offering to god). After the sun set, the Gudhi is removed after the worship. Friends and relatives are invited and offered sweets.
This year Gudi Padwa is celebrated on 4th April 2011.