Legends Associated with Gudi Padwa•
Posted on March 31 2022
Gudi Padwa is one of the several spring festivals celebrated by Hindus. This festival, in particular, is a celebration among Hindus in the Deccan belt. Hindus from Maharashtra and Goa celebrate the festival more than Hindus from other parts of the country. They are of the belief that this day is the most auspicious day in the whole year.
Gudi Padwa, or Gudi Padva as the festival is otherwise called is derived from two terms – Gudi representing Brahma’s flag raised on this day and Padwa referring to the first day of the waxing moon.
Gudi Padwa is typically celebrated on the first day of the lunisolar month of Chaitra in the Hindu calendar month. This is between late March and early April according to the Gregorian calendar. This year, in 2022, the festival occurs on Saturday, 02 April 2022.
There are several stories centred around the Gudi Padwa celebrations. Read on to know a couple of them.
Story 1 – Brahma Recreates the Universe
This story is referenced in Brahma Purana, one of the several holy Hindu scriptures. According to this legend, the entire universe was once destroyed by a natural calamity as a result of a huge torrent. This, in turn, stopped the wheel of time.
Lord Brahma, the creator among the Trinity, set about recreating the universe and restarted the wheel of time. The day the lord went about the recreation is celebrated as Gudi Padwa. As the event is centred around Lord Brahma, the festival is also known as Brahma Dhwaja. Hindus also offer their prayers to the lord on this day.
Story 2 – Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana
As per this story, Hindus celebrate Gudi Padwa to commemorate Lord Rama’s return to Ayodhya along with His wife Sita Devi and brother Lakshman after an exile in the forest for 14 years and His victory over the demon king Ravana. As a mark of His triumph, each household in Ayodhya hoisted the Gudi as a victory flag. To this day, hoisting this flag is an important aspect of the Gudi Padwa celebrations.
Story 3 – Emperor Shivaji’s success over the Mughals
According to this story, the great Maratha emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj waged a huge war against the Mughals and freed the people held captive by the Mughal rulers. This is why the Hindus in Maharashtra raise the Gudi on this day to mark their ruler’s victory. They also believe that the Gudi will usher prosperity and prevent any form of evil from entering their houses.
Irrespective of the story associated with Gudi Padwa, the main reason for the Gudi Padwa celebrations is to herald the arrival of the spring season. The spring season is associated with the harvesting and reaping of rabi crops.
How the Gudi is hoisted
Although the Gudi is associated with the flag of Lord Brahma, the Gudi that is hoisted on the festival day is actually not a flag. This is actually a long bamboo pole topped with a brocade cloth that is generally yellow, green, red or saffron in colour. A garland of red flowers, some neem and mango leaves and a few sugar crystals are placed on top of the cloth. Finally, a copper or silver pot with an auspicious marking like Om or Swastik is turned upside down and kept over the garland and other items to complete the gudi setup. The gudi is then hoisted outside the house on the right side thru a window or on the terrace at an angle by a senior family member so that everyone can see it. After this, all family members assemble around the gudi and pray to Lord Brahma.
Each item of the gudi has its own significance. The yellow colour represents Surya, the Sun God and Agni, the Fire God. These gods are associated with dispelling darkness or ignorance in humans and killing the tasmic energies in an individual. Green and saffron or red symbolise life and the divine fire element respectively.
Neem leaves are associated with blood purification and blood flow regulation. On the other hand, mango leaves are a symbolisation of immortality.
The red flowers are said to keep one away from evil thoughts and action. The Vedas refer to red as the colour to scare the evil spirits and curb their existence.
Sugar crystals are included as they are one of the main ingredients in panchamrit, a dish prepared as prasad for the festival. They also characterise sweetness and serve as a reminder that being respectful, humble and sweet is the first trait that a person must develop to become a good individual.
There are several other rituals associated with Gudi Padwa celebrations. The celebration starts with cleaning inside and outside the houses followed by taking an oil bath. This is followed by wearing new traditional outfits. Men usually wear white coloured kurta pyjamas while women opt for salwar kameez or sarees. Women and children join together to decorate outside their houses with rangolis in vibrant colours and designs. After that there is a major street procession with a lot of dance and music. The typical Maharashtrian dance called Lezim is carried out in the procession to the tune of drum beats.
Various festive sweets like shrikhand, puran poli, puri and kanangachi kheer are prepared and offered to God as prasad. These are then shared with neighbours, friends and relatives. However, the first item on the day is a paste of neem leaves, tamarind and jaggery. Sometimes, coriander seeds are also included in the mixture. The various flavours in this mixture are supposed to represent the different phases in a person’s life.
Some families also believe in exchanging gifts and/or undertaking new ventures on this day. There are people who believe in buying gold jewellery as gold is represented as a sign of auspiciousness. Gudi Padwa is also a day for all members of the family to enjoy each other’s company and have a meal together.
In Maharashtra, a coconut is kept inside the gudi before it is hoisted at a common area in the locality. Men and adolescent boys come forward to form a human pyramid and take the gudi having the coconut and break the coconut kept inside it.
Written by Deepthi K