Sri Namperumal with consorts, Sri Rangam
Ugadi is celebrated by Sri Vaishnavas as the birthday of Lord Ranganatha of Sri Rangam, who appeared in Krita yuga, under the Revathi asterism, in the Tamil month of Panguni…
The word “Ugadi” derives from the word Yugadi. ‘Yuga’ is the word for ‘epoch’ or ‘era’, and ‘aadi’ stands for ‘the beginning’. Yugadi specifically refers to the start of the age we are living in now, Kali Yuga. Kali Yuga started the moment when Lord Krishna disappeared. Maharshi Vedavyasa describes this event with the words ‘yesmin krishno divamvyataha tasmat eeva pratipannam kaliyugam’. Some Indian historians date the beginning of Kali Yuga to 3102 BC.
The festival marks the new year day for people between Vishyas and Kaveri river who follow the southern Indian lunar calendar, pervasively adhered to in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. This calendar reckons dates based on the Salivahana era (Salivahana Saka), which begins its count from the supposed date of the founding of the Empire by the legendary hero Shalivahana. The Satavahana king Shalivahana (also identified as Gautamiputra Satakarni) is credited with the initiation of this era known as Shalivahana. The Salivahana era begins its count of years from the year corresponding to 78 AD of the Gregorian calendar. Thus, the year 2000 AD corresponds to the year 1922 of the Salivahana Era.
Sri Namperumal (photo courtesy: http://www.srirangapankajam.com)
In the terminology used by this lunar calendar (also each year is identified as per Hindu Calendar), Yugadi falls on Chaitra Shudhdha Paadyami or the first day of the bright half of the Hindu month of Chaitra. This generally falls in the months of March or April of the Gregorian calendar. In 2008, Yugadi fell on April 6th/7th depending on the region based on the thithi(because of adhika month)…
Telugu calendars have a sixty year cycle and starts the new year on Ugadi i.e., on Chaitra Sudhdha Paadyami. After the completion of sixty years, the calendar starts anew with the first year. Ugadi (start of new year) is based on Bhāskara II lunar calculations in 12th century. It starts on the first new moon after Sun crosses equator from south to north on Spring Equinox.
The Kannada and Telugu people celebrate the festival with great fanfare; gatherings of the extended family and a sumptuous feast are de rigueur. The day, however, begins with ritual showers (oil bath) followed by prayers, and then the eating of a specific mixture of –
- Neem Buds/Flowers for bitterness
- Raw Mango for tang
- Tamarind Juice for sourness
- Green Chilli/Pepper for heat
- Jaggery for sweetness
- Pinch of Salt for saltiness
This mixture with all six tastes, called “Ugadi Pacchadi” in Telugu and “Bevu-Bella” in Kannada, symbolizes the fact that life is a mixture of different experiences (sadness, happiness, anger, fear, disgust, surprise) , which should be accepted together and with equanimity.
Later, people traditionally gather to listen to the recitation of the religious almanac (Panchangam) of the coming year, and to the general forecast of the year to come. This is the Panchanga Sravanam, an informal social function where an elderly and respected person refers to the new almanac pertaining to the coming year and makes a general benediction to all present. The advent of television has changed this routine, especially in the cities. Nowadays, people turn on the TV to watch broadcasts of the recitation.
Ugadi celebrations are marked by literary discussions, poetry recitations and recognition of authors of literary works through awards and cultural programs. Recitals of classical Karnatik music and dance are held in the evenings…
Excerpted and adapted from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ugadi