Ugadi: Hindus in India, worldwide embrace New Year with spring festivals

FRIDAY, APRIL 8: Spring in India brings the sweet scent of ripe mangoes, aromas of calming jasmine and the Hindu New Year: Ugadi, also known as Yugadi. Hindus in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and parts of Karnataka have been cleaning their homes for nearly a week, and in celebrating regions in India and around the world today, devotees gather for Ugadi poetry recitals, dance festivals, sports and youth essay contests. New Year predictions announced by Brahmin priests, and traditional prayers are offered. Across India, many homes are adorned with mango leaves and women braid fresh jasmine into their hair, toiling over special New Year dishes in anticipation of shared feasts with family and friends.

Did you know? One of the most popular dishes on today’s menu is Ugadi Pachadi, a dish containing several tastes that symbolize the many emotions of life. Unfortunately, this dish isn’t easily replicated in the U.S. or outside of India; ingredients such as neem buds and jaggery can be difficult to find.

Millions of men and women across India base the start of the Saka, or Indian national calendar, on an ancient system that balances both lunar and solar cycles. This year, the Saka calendar places Ugadi (literally, “the beginning of an age”) on April 8. Many also believe that Yugadi marks the anniversary of our current era—known as Kali Yuga.

Netherlands celebrates Ugadi: Festivals for Yugadi are popping up worldwide, such as in the Netherlands, where this year the Telugu Association of Netherlands will present cultural performances, an array of authentic foods and more for a Ugadi event on April 9. (The Hindu reported.) The customs and language of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana will be brought to Amsterdam as part of the event expected to draw approximately 500 families.