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The relevance of Gudi Padwa and its rituals

By Dr Raviraj Ahirrao
March 25, 2020 09:04 IST
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A significant ritual is to consume neem leaves, a custom that marks the beginning of the festival.
Neem also helps in boosting the immune system, notes Dr Raviraj Ahirrao.

Gudi Padwa is relevant during covid-19

IMAGE: A young girl paints a gudi ahead of Gudi Padwa in Mumbai, Maharashtra.  Photograph: Sahil Salvi

We are going through a time and situation our generation is not prepared for.

It is a period of uncertainty and upheaval that needs to acknowledged and adhered to at all levels.

While it is very important to maintain social distancing as much as possible, it is equally essential not to forget our traditions and rituals, some of which naturally encourage a sustainable and a positive lifestyle.

Gudi Padwa, for example, celebrates new beginnings for many communities in India.

The Indian New Year, unlike its Western counterpart, also commemorates the start of something positive while ushering in auspicious tidings.  

Some of the rituals if carefully followed keeping the current scenario in mind, will not only help in bringing positive energies but will also help in boosting the immune system, which may help resist the deadly COVID-19.

According to Vastushastra all Indian festivals have a simple yet important purpose behind celebrating them. During every festival the foremost thing to be done is the removal of clutter, dust and waste materials to rejuvenate energies that boosts the wellbeing of the health and mind. 

On this day, houses are adorned with the auspicious Swastika, a powerful symbols in Hinduism, with turmeric and vermillion.

Women decorate the entrance doors with rangolis of different patterns and colours. Most rangoli symbols are meant to protect homes from negative energies.

Similarly, sweets and different dishes are cooked from seasonal food materials to improve metabolism of the body, whereas spiritual offerings and rituals bring sanctity to the soul.

Gudi Padwa is also celebrated in other parts of India in the form of Telugu New Year (traditionally known as Ugadi), Kannada New Year (Yugadi), Sindhi New Year (Cheti Chand), and Kashmiri New Year (Navreh).

Some other rituals that may be relevant would be:

The Gudi Flag is placed on the right side of the main entrance to keep negativity away and bring luck and prosperity.

Usually family members get together to clean the house and prepare for the spring season. Removal of clutter generates positive energies which in turn makes the mind positive and charged. Cleaning the house and premises is also important so that germs and microbes don’t get accumulated and cause illnesses.

A customary oil-bath is a must on this day. Wearing new clothes, especially traditional kurta-pajamas and sarees also form an integral part of the custom. Oil baths are generally medicated oils, which help in boosting the immunity of the body while new clothes signify cleanliness and good hygiene.

A significant ritual is to consume neem leaves, a custom that marks the beginning of the festival. The leaves can be eaten raw or can be prepared as a chutney by grinding it and then mixing jaggery and other seeds with it.

According to Ayurveda, neem is the best way to purify impurities in the blood. It triggers physical stamina to great heights.

Neem also helps in boosting the immune system.

Other dishes that are prepared on this day are shrikhand -- a sweet that is consumed with poori; puran poli, chana, and soonth panak (an ingredient helpful in keeping the respiratory tract clear)

Although Gudi Padwa is best celebrated with friends and family, this year it is best advised not to host or attend public rallies.

Stay away from public spaces and gatherings; instead celebrate the festival with your family members for your own and society's benefit.


Dr Raviraj Ahirrao is co-founder, Vastu Raviraj. He can be contacted on ga@rediff.co.in


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