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Spring is here!

Spring is here!
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Y V Ramakotaiah Ugadi festival heralds Vasanta Rutuvu (spring) --- a season of flowers, mists and mellow...

Y V Ramakotaiah ugadhiUgadi festival heralds Vasanta Rutuvu (spring) --- a season of flowers, mists and mellow fruitfulness --- the period between winter and summer, when the cuckoo sings with full-throated ease, when Mother Nature exults in her splendour, gladness breathes from the blossoming ground, the squirrel gaily chirps by his den, and the wilding bee hums merrily by. Butterflies swarm to the multicoloured flowers caressing them. Men of letters excel in their poetic imagination. There will be smiles on the fruits and flowers. Spring is also called Nature's youth. Neem trees thrill with full bloom. Mango trees bear fruit. Hence the spring is appropriately called the king of seasons. Small wonder then this is regarded as the auspicious time to launch schemes and projects. According to the Chandramana (Lunar) system, Ugadi falls on Chaitra Shuddha Padyami, of the Shalivahana Shaka. Though it is called the Vijaya Naama Telugu New Year day, Ugadi is also celebrated as the New Year day by Kannadigas and Maharashtrians. Legend has it that it was on Chaitra Suddha Padyami that Lord Brahma created the earth and everything on it as part of the creation of the universe. This day is, therefore, celebrated as Ugadi, a corrupt form of Yugadi (Yuga+Adi). Varahamihira, the renowned 6th century saint-mathematician-astrologer in the court of Vikramaditya of Ujjain, started celebrating this festival on Chaitra Shuddha Padyami. During the period of Ramayana, however, this New Year was celebrated on the first day of Uttarayana (the half of the solar year during which the sun moves northward from the tropic of Capricorn to the tropic of Cancer). To welcome the New Year people of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra commence their preparations a week before Ugadi. They clean their houses and surroundings, shop for new clothes and gifts, and ingredients to prepare a variety of sweets and other items. A special preparation for this festival is Ugadi Pachchadi, a kind of chutney which is eaten on empty stomach on Ugadi day. The ingredients of the chutney are neem (Margosa) flowers, jaggery, cane-juice, raw mango pieces and pulp of new tamarind mixed with water, and a little salt. This sauce has great medicinal properties. This preparation signifies the ups and downs in human life---the joys, sorrows, success and frustration one experiences year after year. Some make good resolutions on this day and try to execute them; and some break them the very next day. Almost all the tradition-bound people, young and old, take oil bath in the morning and wear new clothes, visit temples to pray to their gods, and eat the Ugadi Pachchadi. On this day learned priests read out the Panchangam (almanac) for the benefit of lay people and make predictions for the year ahead. This is known as "Panchanga Pathanam." For the listeners, it is "Panchanga Sravanam." A traditional feature of Telugu Ugadi is "Kavi Sammelan" (poets' gathering) where poets recite their verses----some on the significance of the festival, some with literary flourishes, some humorous and satirical verses on the socio-economic ills, the games politicians play, and some seek to hold up to ridicule the faults of men or institutions. Such programmes are broadcast over All India Radio and even telecast. On this enchanting festival day, people wish to be healthy, wealthy, and successful in all their endeavours throughout the year.
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