How to celebrate Gudi Padwa / Ugadi in the current scenario ?

Chaitra Shukla Pratipada is the day on which the Universe was created; hence, this is the real commencement of the New Year. The cycle of the year that begins with Gudipadwa is related to the time that the Universe was first created and therefore, nature is vibrant with life. The Hindu New Year Day is ‘Chaitra Shukla Pratipada’ and is also known as ‘Gudipadwa’. It has been told in the scriptures that on this day immediately after sunrise perform ritualistic worship of the Gudi and erect it. Gudipadwa is also one among the three and a half muhurts (Auspicious days). In this article by Sanatan Sanstha, we will see the natural, historical and spiritual importance of Gudi Padwa / Ugadi.  

This year, in some places due to the corona pandemic, there may be limitations on performing this festival as usual. In this article we will also see How to celebrate Hindu New Year (Gudi Padwa / Ugadi) in the current scenario? However, where it is possible to celebrate this festival as usual by abiding all the rules of administration, it should be done as per usual practice.

Tithi (Lunar day) of the festival

Yugadi tithi, Chaitra Shukla Pratipada (First day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu lunar month of Chaitra)

There are several ways of commencing a new year – in the Christian calendar 1st January marks the beginning of the year, the financial year in Bharat begins from 1st April, the Hindu new year from Chaitra Shukla Pratipada, the commercial year from the first day of the Hindu lunar month of Kartik, the solar year, the lunar year, the lunisolar year and so on. Irrespective of the day of commencement, the year comprises twelve months. Who first proclaimed that a year should consist of twelve months and how did the world come to accept it? The Vedas (The most sacred Hindu scriptures.) are the foremost in promoting this concept. There is no difference of opinion that Vedas are the most ancient of literary texts. The Vedas say ‘द्वादशमासैः संवत्सरः।’, meaning ‘a year consists of twelve months’. It is because the Vedas say so that the world has accepted it. Of all the days mentioned above, the most ideal is that of Chaitra Shukla Pratipada. There is no explanation as to why 1st of January is the beginning of the New Year. Someone decided this, and it began. Contrary to this there are natural, historical and spiritual reasons to mark the commencement of the year on Chaitra Shukla Pratipada.

A. Natural

Towards the first day of the month of Chaitra (Padva), the sun assumes a position above the Vasant intersection (the point of intersection of the Equator and the Meridians) and the spring season commences. In Srimad Bhagvad Gita (10.35) Shrikrushna says, “Amongst the seasons the exhilarating Vasant rutu (spring) is my manifestation.” In this season, the weather is pleasant and exhilarating. In the Shishir rutu (autumn) the trees shed their leaves. Towards Padwa, trees bear new foliage and appear fresh.

B. Historical

1. On this day, Shriram killed Vali.

2. The Shakas too gained victory by defeating the Huns.

3. This day also commemorates the commencement of the ‘Shalivahan shak’; for, on this day King Shalivahan vanquished his enemies.

C. Spiritual

Creation of the Universe

Deity Brahma created the Universe on this day, that marked the beginning of Satyayug (the first in the cycle of four eras since the origin of the Universe); hence, the commencement of the New Year on this day.

Not 1st January, but Gudi Padva is truly the New Year day.

The cycle of the year that begins with Gudi Padva is related to the time that the Universe was first created and therefore, nature is vibrant with life. On the contrary, the year beginning from the midnight of 31st December is related to the period of destruction. The New Year beginning on the day of Gudi Padwa can be compared to a radiant day brought by a new sunrise.

The New Year after 31st December is like the night which follows a sunset, filled with the tama component. Man benefits, by following the rules of nature and is actually harmed by going against it. Hence, it is beneficial to celebrate the New Year on Gudi Padwa, rather than 31st December night as per western culture.

Gudi Padwa, Akshay Trutiya and Dussehra (Vijayadashmi) each make up one, and the first day of the Hindu lunar month of Kartik comprises one-half of the total three and a half muhurts. The special feature of these three and a half muhurts is that unlike other days, when one has to choose an auspicious moment to perform a ritual, on these days one does not need to, as every moment of these days is auspicious.

How to celebrate Gudipadwa / Ugadi in the current scenario?

Today, most places across the country are under lockdown or current rules laid upon us by the Government due to the current adverse times due to corona. As such, it has become difficult to procure all the materials that are traditionally used in the Gudipadwa puja. However, you can still benefit spiritually by doing the following while celebrating Gudipadwa this year –

1. If you are unable to procure a new bamboo stick for erecting the Gudhi, then use an older one after cleaning it. If that is not possible, you may use any stick after cleansing it with water mixed with Gomutra and vibhuti.
2. You can forgo using neem and mango leaves if they are not available easily.
3. Akshata (unbroken rice grains mixed with kumkum) have the capacity to attract all principles. So, you can offer akshata in place of coconuts, betel leaves, areca-nut, fruits if they are unavailable. You can offer akshata in lieu of flowers too.
4. If you are unable to prepare prasad from neem leaves, then you can offer any sweet as naivedya. If that is not possible then you can offer jaggery or sugar as naivedya.

However, where it is possible to celebrate this festival as usual by abiding all the rules of administration, it should be done as per usual practice.  

To get maximum benefit of God’s blessings, wish Hindus and others on Chaitra Shukla Pratipada by sending them greeting cards (by mail, E-mail), SMS etc. and telephonically Best Wishes to all on the Hindu New Year ( Gudipadwa / Ugadi ) !

Reference: Sanatan Sanstha’s Holy Text ‘Holy festivals, Religious festivals and Vowed religious observances’
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