Gudi Padwa is a major Indian festival which is celebrated by a number of Indians in India and abroad. It is a unique festival because it is celebrated to announce the first day of the Hindu New Year. Though the International New Year is celebrated on the first of January, which is according to the Gregorian calendar, the festival of Gudi Padwa is celebrated according to the lunisolar Indian calendar. This festival is mainly celebrated by the people of Maharashtra. It is believed that religiously performing the rituals during this festival bestows the worshipper with divine energies. Each ritual is strictly conducted and has different ways for each of them; so, one needs to know in detail about the customs.
Gudi Padwa Rituals
The Auspicious Bath
The festival starts with an oil bath, which is done by applying oil to the body. Then the skin is allowed to absorb the required quantity of oil, after which a bath is taken with warm water. Taking bath with warm water pleases the body and helps it relax. The remaining oil on the body after the bath helps the body to retain the elasticity of the skin and hence it is necessary to apply oil to the body prior to taking a bath.
Rangoli on the doorstep
After taking an auspicious bath early in the morning, the next step is to decorate the entrance of the house. While decorating the doorstep, mango leaves and red colored flowers are used as these are considered auspicious.
Soon after the decorations are complete, the routine rituals are conducted. During these rituals, Lord Brahma is offered prayers and davna (a fragrant plant). Later, "Havan" is conducted during which offerings are made through fire. These offerings are made to Lord Vishnu who is worshipped in a number of forms.
Hoisting of the Gudi
The Gudi is considered to be Lord Brahma"s flag and it is hoisted to show Lord Rama"s victory over Ravana and his return to Ayodhya. As it is the symbol of victory and the symbol of victory is always held high, so is the Gudi. A yellow cloth is tied to the Gudi with red flowers and mango leaves. An inverted silver or copper pot is adorned on the top of the bamboo stick.
After the Gudi is hoisted, everyone religiously listens to the almanac which charts the kind happenings during the year. Listening to this almanac is considered auspicious and it is considered to bestow upon the listener with merits equal to taking a dip in holiest of the holy river Ganges.
Prasadam is offered
During Gudi Padwa, it is considered that the Neem tree absorbs the Prajapati frequencies the most; hence this bitter plant too is offered among other offerings. Among other offerings Gram lentil, honey, cumin seeds and Asafetida are offered along with chanting of auspicious verses from scriptures.
Apart from tilling the soil and donating the needy with money and other materialistic needs, people also visit and spend time with elders to get their blessings.