Gudhi Padva, is the Marathi name for Chaitra Shukla Pratipada.It is celebrated on the first day of the Chaitra month to mark the beginning of the New year according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar. This day is also the first day of Chaitra Navratri and Ghatasthapana also known as Kalash Sthapana is done on this day.
The word Padwa comes from the sanskrit word पड्ड्वा/पाड्ड्वो(pāḍḍavā/pāḍḍavo, which stands for the first day of the bright phase of the moon called प्रतिपदा (pratipadā) in Sanskrit.
In south India, first day of the bright phase of the moon is called pa?yapāḍya(Tamil: பாட்ய or பாட்டமி , Kannada: ಪಾಡ್ಯ, Telugu: పాడ్యమి, paadyami,Konkani: पाड्यॆ,ಪಾಡ್ಯ). KKonkani Hindus variously refer to the day as संसर पाडवो or संसर पाड्यॆ (saṁsāra 'pāḍavo/ saṁsāra pāḍye),संसार (saṁsāra) being a corruption of the word संवत्सर (saṁvatsara). Konkani Hindus in Karnataka also refer to it as उगादि, ಯುಗಾದಿ(ugādi).
On Guḍhī Pāḍavā, a gudhi is found sticking out of a window or otherwise prominently displayed in traditional Maharashtrian households. Bright green or yellow cloth adorned with brocade (zari) tied to the tip of a long bamboo over which gaathi (sugar crystals), neem leaves, a twig of mango leaves and a garland of red flowers is tied. A silver or copper pot is placed in the inverted position over it. Altogether, it is called as Gudhi. It is hoisted outside the house, in a window, terrace or a high place so that everybody can see it.
Some of the significances attributed to raising a Gudhi are as follows:
Maharashtrians also see the Gudhi as a symbol of victory associated with the conquests of the Maratha forces led by Chhatrapati Shivaji. It also symbolizes the victory of King Shalivahana over Sakas and was hoisted by his people when he returned to Paithan.
Gudhi symbolizes the Brahmadhvaj (translation: Brahma’s flag) mentioned in the Brahma Purana, because Lord Brahma created the universe on this day. It may also represent Indradhvaj (translation: the flag of Indra).
Mythologically, the Gudhi symbolizes Lord Rama’s victory and happiness on returning to Ayodhya after slaying Ravana. Since a symbol of victory is always held high, so is the gudhi (flag). It is believed that this festival is celebrated to commemorate the coronation of Rama post his return to Ayodhya after completing 14 years of exile.
Gudhi is believed to ward off evil, invite prosperity and good luck into the house.
The Gudhi is positioned on the right side of the main entrance of the house. The right side symbolizes active state of the soul.
On the festive day, courtyards in village houses will be swept clean and plastered with fresh cow-dung. Even in the city, people take the time out to do some spring cleaning. Women and children work on intricate rangoli designs on their doorsteps, the vibrant colours mirroring the burst of colour associated with spring. Everyone dresses up in new clothes and it is a time for family gatherings.
Traditionally, families are supposed to begin the festivities by eating the bittersweet leaves of the neem tree. Sometimes, a paste of neem leaves is prepared and mixed with dhane, gul/gur (known as jaggery in English), and tamarind. All the members of the family consume this paste, which is believed to purify the blood and strengthen the body’s immune system against diseases.
Maharashtrian families also make shrikhand and Poori or Puran Poli on this day. Konkanis make Kanangachi Kheer, a variety of Kheer made of sweet potato, coconut milk, jaggery, rice flour, etc. and Sanna.