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To mark the beginning of the New Year and the harvest season in Maharashtra, Gudi Padwa is celebrated with great zeal and fervour. The word 'Gudi' refers to Lord Brahma's flag that is hoisted on this day outside homes and windows, while, 'Padwa' is a call out to day one of the phases of the moon. Gudi Padwa is celebrated under different names in various states like 'Ugadi' in Andhra Pradesh, 'Yugadi' in Karnataka and 'Bihu' in Assam.
How is it celebrated?
Gudi is a special symbol of the festival and is prepared by tying a bright yellow or green silk cloth, featuring zari embroidery, on a long bamboo stick. Neem leaves, a garland of yellow flowers, a twig with mango leaves and gathi (a Maharashtrian sweet) are tied on the cloth. The stick is topped off with an inverted copper or silver pot and the Gudi is kept outside the door. The area around the Gudi is considered auspicious and is decorated with beautiful rangoli patterns (designs made with colours, flower petals, etc.), featuring geometrical patterns, aesthetics like trees, animals, lamps and other Hindu motifs. The vibrant colours used are a reflection of the spring season that brings a burst of hues with it.
In preparation of the day, people bathe with aromatics and oils, and dress up their festive best. The most important ritual of the festival is the erecting of the Gudi, post which people pray to Lord Brahma. Another interesting custom is the breaking of the coconut kept inside the Gudi. For this purpose, children form a sort of human pyramid to reach the height of the Gudi. When the pyramid is set, one of the boys climbs to the top and breaks the coconut.
The eating of neem leaves is considered customary. People either chew them raw or eat them with jaggery and seeds. Delicacies associated with the festival are shrikhand (a sweet dish made with strained yogurt), Puran poli (a sweet flatbread) and soonth panak (a traditional Indian drink).