The Ugadi or Yuga-Adi is the festival celebrated to mark the Telugu new year day. All over the world, 1st of January is celebrated as a new year day. But in addition, traditionally people celebrate new year days on the basis of the calendar they follow. In India some follow the Solar Calendar and the others the Lunar Calendar. For those who follow the Solar Calendar the Ugadi (New Year) day falls on 14th of April every year. For those who follow Lunar Calendar it varies from year to year and falls on some day in the months of March or April.
Ugadi is a festival of joy. The season is pleasant. The trees grow new leaves. New flowers are seen everywhere. The birds of spring sing melodiously. Mangoes are in plenty and are half-way to become ripe. It is believed by the Hindus that if one is happy on the Ugadi day, he will be happy throughout the year. So everyone wants to spend the Ugadi day as happily as possible.
The day starts with cleaning and decorating the house. Mango leaves and flowers are used to decorate doorways. Oil-bath is a must for everybody. Everyone, rich or poor, wears new clothes. After prayers to family deities “Ugadi Pachadi” is first eaten by all. Ugadi Pachadi is a special preparation in which tender margosa leaves and neem flowers, jaggery, and tamarind are added. It tastes sweet, hot as well as sour. It is believed that life is a mixture of all, like the Ugadi Pachadi.
On the Ugadi day a visit to a temple is a must. Many visit places of pilgrimage. There will be a heavy rush in all temples. Temples like the Balaji temple at Tirumalai attract large number of devotees. Ugadi is also a day to remember ancestors. It is a day for giving alms to the poor. People gather in select places to listen to ‘Panchanga Sravanam’, the Pandit reading the forecasts of rain, harvests, cost of grain, pulses etc.
Ugadi is also an occasion for cultural activities, Poets join together and recite poems in Kavisammelans. It is a tradition coming from the days of the great king Krishnadevaraya who patronised great poets (Ashta Diggajas) and was himself a poet.
In the afternoon after a tasty lunch with delicious dishes, people go to friends to greet one another. Special greeting cards are also printed and posted to friends and relations living far away. A good beginning is said to be half done. A new year day happily spent means a happy year to follow. So goes the belief.