When Brahma ji started the creation, it was on this very day of Chaitra Suddha Padyami that the Yug started and hence we celebrate this auspicious day as the start of a new cycle of time. This auspicious day celebrated as the Nav Varsh in India, marks the first Chaitra month of the Hindu calendar and welcomes the first season of the year which is the Vasant Ritu. Hence, this festival is filled with flowers blooming, harvest coming home, spring at its behest and happiness prosperity filling in the hearts and homes of one and all. Also, this is also the start of the Chaitra Navartri, which are the days of celebrating knowledge and learning and end with the celebration of the birth of Shri Ram on the ninth day as Shri Ram Navami.
Being a country of diverse cultures, India celebrates the Nav Varsh in the most splendored way. This day is called the Yugadi, meaning Yug- Adi- start of the Yuga. In the southern states of Andhra PradesH, Karnataka and Telangana , this festival is celebrated with beautiful rangolis, ritual worships to family deities and preparing the Ugadi dish which is mix of six tastes – sweet, sour, salt, bitter, spice and sharp which represent all the emotions one faces in life and how to make the best of them.
The Panchang Sravan is one of the important rituals of the festival, wherein all gather to know their horoscopes for the year around. This Panchang Sravan brings in positivity in life, wherein knowing about the dangers of the future, one can be alert and cautious and ward them off. Hence this is a very important community gathering which takes place during the Ugadi festival.
In the state of Maharashtra, this festival is celebrated as the Gudi Padwa. This is the time of arrival of the spring season and the Rabi crop coming home. Gudi means flag and hoisting a flag on temples and roofs of houses is one of the main features of this festival wherein a bright colourful silk scarf- like cloth is tied at the top of a long bamboo. Neem and mango leaves are attached along with a garland of flowers and a kalash is placed which is a symbol of good defeating the evil.
In Rajasthan, this festival is called the Thapna, wherein this festival is celebrated by doing regional rituals at homes and greeting each other with good wishes. The Sindhis celebrate this festival as the Chetni Chand. This is celebrated as an end mark of a tyrannical ruler who ruled over their region wherein Varun Dev had come as a saviour and killed the ruler and bought and peace to the region. As it fell on the day of the first lunar calendar, the Sindhis celebrate this as their new year.
In Manipur, this festival is called Cheiraoba. The mountain people decorate their homes with the first flowers of the spring season and prepare lot of food delicacies. Then the village folk celebrate a ritual of climbing a mountain which is s representation of them going to greater heights of success and prosperity in their lives.
The names are different, the cultures are varied and the celebrations are diverse, but the essence of welcoming the Hindu New Year is the same while reflecting the philosophy that live and let live, and when you live, be good, do good and get good. The Chaitra month marks the beginning of new ideals, hopes, ideas all unifying towards a better life.