Thursday, April 11, 2013

Gudhi Padva is beginnings

 Gudhi Padva is beginnings

Bollywood celebs have by now tweeted a Happy Gudhi Padwa to Maharashtrian friends; Facebook enthusiasts have hoisted an e-Gudhi on their cover profile. For those who associated the first day of the Marathi cultural calendar with a quiet family bonding occasion laced with eclectic culinary joys, times have changed. The characteristic mounting of a garlanded Gudhi (flag) on a pole is now much more than an auspicious mahurta. A time for announcements of grand projects, investments, the all-embracing religious festival, heralding the arrival of Chaitra (spring), is an evolved event marked by mass-scale community participation, decorative shobhayatras, rangoli contests, musical shows with a liberal sprinkling of chafa (frangipani) flowers and signature concoctions like amba panha (raw mango drink). Not to factor in the greeting cards, miniature Gudhi gifts and the Gudhi Padwa-eve dos will be unfair to the industrious souls that have now legitimised the seasonal Gudhi Padwa commerce.
In Mumbai, known for its time-sensitivity as well as human disconnect, the Gudhi Padwa festivities are welcome exchanges. Historically, the mounting of a Gudhi signified victory in a war; the triumph of good over evil; a defining climatic change in the agricultural schedule. In the contemporary context, the Gudhi is a cultural motif. It binds the Maharashtrian community in a rejoicing moment, irrespective of caste and class divisions. Extending its celebratory good cheer to non-Maharashtrians, it is enjoyed as a state holiday. The festival is marked by ceremonial pujas in Maharashtra’s governmental as well as and non-government spaces, corporate offices and public corners that are embellished by marigold torans and neem-mango leaves. Its regional avatars are found in Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
Gudhi Padwa messaging exudes positivity and hope. It is more than a calendar reminder of New Year possibilities. Amid the jubilation, the rathyatras showcasing traditional pagdis and nauwaris, the srikhand-puri platter, the Chaitra Chahool entertainment evenings, Gudhi Padwa is a shared community slot for determining our collective trajectory. Let us raise a Gudhi that elevates us as a people.

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