The months of March and April are auspicious months for the Hindu community worldwide as they usher in their respective New Year, beginning with the Telugu community’s Ugadi on the 25th of March 2020.

Referred to as the Telugu Panchang or Almanac, Ugadi is believed to be the day when Brahma, the Creator in the Hindu Trinity formed the universe. It is celebrated on the first moon of the Chaitra month of the lunar calendar.

Ugadi is the Telugu New year celebrated all over the world by Telugu and Kannada speaking people. It is also marked as the beginning of the vasantakalam or season, whereby it is the time where plants sprout new shoots, unripe mangoes hang from branches, neem flowers appear and the farmers prepare their land for the next crops.

The community’s calendar is on a 60-year rotation with a unique name for each year and the New Year in 2020 is called Sarvari Naama Ugadi. The wish can be simply stated as “Sarvari Naama Ugadi Subhakankshalu”.

The significance can be seen in its name since Yuga means “era”, and Aadi means “the beginning”.

Preparations for Ugadi start as early as one week prior, when homes are cleaned and decorated and new clothes are purchased.

Families also perform prayers for their goddess in a special ceremony called the Nokalamma Panduga (Goddess Nokalamma Festival) the night before.

On the day of the festival, fresh mango leaves are strung up above doorways for prosperity in the New Year. The day is considered to be auspicious to start new ventures as well.

Colourful muggu (rangoli), an intricate chalk pattern or design, is also drawn on the front porch.

Celebrants usually wake up at the crack of dawn to take an oil bath specially prepared by the matriarch of the family. The oil contains a mixture of castor, coconut and mustard oil.

After the bath, the family gets dressed in new traditional outfits, men in their kattu panchi (dhoti) and kandua (shawl) and women in their finery. The entire family then gathers at the prayer room for the Ugadi prayers.

Another part of the celebration is the cultural aspect where most indulge in the reading of literary works, poetic recitations, chanting of mantras and Vedas, singing bhajans and listening to classical songs.

However, the most-awaited ritual for Ugadi is the Panchanga Sravanam, the religious almanac predictions for the year to come which are read at temples on the auspicious day.

Like in all other festivals, prayers and feasts are an important aspect of celebrations and first on the menu is the Ugadi Pachadi. It is a mixture of ingredients that represent six tastes – neem (bitter), raw mango (tangy), tamarind juice (sour), green chilli/pepper (heat), jaggery (sweet) as well as a pinch of salt.

These six tastes known as “Satruchi” symbolises life as a blend of different experiences – sorrow, joy, anger, fear, disgust, and surprise) – which should all be accepted in the journey of life.

Other favourites include Teepu Garulu (a sweet vadai dipped in Jaggery), Burulu (a sweet made in a round shape with green peas or dhall dipped in flour and fried), Arusulu (a sweet dish flattened with the ingredients being rice flour, jaggery, and sesame seeds) and Bobbatu (a sweet flatbread made primarily of flour and jaggery).

This year, the Telugus will compromise in having the new year on a grand scale as the entire globe is hit with the Pandemic Covid-19 and as the parent Association of all Telugu’s in Malaysia, we have urged all Telugus to postpone the new year celebrations to a later date and take this opportunity to pray for the nations well being so that we can fight this pandemic together and return to normal state of affairs sooner than expected.

All 27 branches of the Association nationwide have since postponed the celebrations and have strictly complied with the Movement Control Order issued by the Honourable Prime Minister.

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This article is contributed by the Telugu Association Of Malaysia.