The Telugu New Year Day is known as Ugadi. Marked by Hindus in the Telugu-speaking states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, it is celebrated on the first day of the month of Chaitra (the first month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar). Because lunisolar calendars juxtapose the phases of the moon and the movement of the sun, they do not move in sync with the solar year. This means that the days on which festivals like Ugadi are celebrated do not fall on a particular date (in keeping with the solar cycle). This year it is being observed on March 18. In 2019, it will fall on April 9. On the other hand, the harvest festival of Sankranti which is determined by the movement of the sun is almost always observed on January 14 (and sometimes, on January 15).
Similar New Year Day celebrations take place around the same time (the first day of Chaitra) in the neighbouring states of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka. In Maharashtra, the festival goes by the name of Gudi Padwa, in Goa – Samvatsar Padvo, and Karnataka – Yugadi. It involves a whole lot of feasting with the family. People get up early in the morning, bathe and put on their finest clothes, decorate their homes (with floral motifs made of coloured rice flour, known as muggulu and strings of mango leaves hung up on the doorstep). The houses themselves are cleaned up the day before. Once all the cleaning and decorating is done, family members get together to eat to their hearts’ content.
A number of food items are closely associated with the day of Ugadi. The most unusual one is the Ugadi Pachadi – a concoction made out of tamarind juice, jaggery, raw mango, flowers of the neem tree, grated coconut, salt and chilies. Each of these ingredients contributes tastes corresponding to the different experiences and emotions in life. While the Ugadi Pachadi is all about symbolism, the real attractions are Bobbatlu (a sweet flatbread made from wheat flour, mashed chickpeas and jaggery), Boorelu (deep-fried balls of black gram-and-rice batter stuffed with jaggery, grated coconuts and mashed chickpeas) and Pulihora (rice flavoured with tamarind extract). While Ugadi is important from the ritual point of view, it is Sankranti that is the greatest festival of the Telugu-speaking people.
Image Attribution: The image above, sourced from Wikimedia Commons, shows what is known as a Muggu in Telugu. These are intricate patterns traditionally made out of coloured rice flour, powdered limestone, or chalk. More often than not, they are of a geometrical nature, or floral, with grids, dots and loops being used to create the most intricate designs (though the one above is a rather simplified version). Such decorations are common across South India. The photograph was uploaded by Vengolis.
- ‘Ugadi 2018: History, Significance and Importance’ (dated March 17, 2018), The Indian Express