The arrival of Hindu New Year is celebrated in every Indian state with a different style. The first day of Chaitra is believed to be the beginning of Hindu New Year. Traditionally, the day marks the end of one harvesting season and beginning of another. For the Marathi Community the day is known as Gudi Padwa.
In scientific terms, the sun falls directly on the point of intersection of the Equator and the meridians on this day, which marks the commencement of Spring.
When I first heard about Gudi Padwa, I made sure that I had to be a part of this festival. The vibe of the festival was really spellbinding. More than vibe, the pride that the people of Maharashtra took in displaying their culture was amazing. When time came, I was ready with my tickets and on a journey to Mumbai, the city where I was planning to attend the festival.
Gudi Padawa is celebrated all across Maharashtra, In Mumbai, Girgaon is one of the prime locations that boasts of the biggest Gudi Padawa procession in the city. Playing on the safe side, I too decided to visit this location so that I don’t end up missing the celebration in search of an off-beat location in Mumbai.
The rally for Gudi Padwa starts at 7 in the morning. The earlier you reach there, the more clearly you’ll be able to see the festival. The procession starts with women dressed in colorful sarees tied in Marathi style. The groups of men and women carry their dhols and other musical instruments. The beats of these instruments fills the environment with an amazing energy.
In mythological aspects, there are a lot of stories regarding how Gudi Padwa started. Some say that, Lord Brahma created the universe on this day, while others believe that Lord Narayana came to rescue the Earth in the “Matsa” or Fish Avatar.
The Marathi community commemorates the victories of the great Marathi ruler, Chhatrapati Shivaji. They dress up in their traditional attires and carry colorful processions in every town and village of Maharashtra.
The custom of Gudi Padwa is not too old. In-fact the origins of the festival dates back to the year 1990. Soon the tradition caught up everywhere in Maharashtra.
The location of Gudi Padwa rally in Girgaon is not too far. Just get out of Mahalaxmi station and ask any taxi to drop you at Ganesh Mandir. But you’ll see the processions starting from a distance. Since the traffic comes to a halt, your taxi will leave you at a point from where you’ll have to walk.
The Marathi Folks start this day by hoisting a ‘Gudi’ on the right hand corner of their house. The Gudi is an upturned metal vessel on a long wooden stick. The stick is decorated with a yellow colored cloth and mango leaves. This set is then covered with garlands and neem leaves. This ritual was started by Shivaji in order to pay honor to Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu.
The management at Gudi Padwa makes sure that everything happens in an orderly way. The four hour procession brings the traffic to still. The volunteers arrange for water and cool drinks in order to keep everyone refresh. The March summer is too hard in Mumbai, and as an outside, if you find it troubling, then the locals will tell you, ‘the summers haven’t started yet’.
Gudi Padwa is a chance for Mumbaikars to show that how extraordinarily the celebrate every occasion in their life. The streets of Mumbai are filled with grandeur and opulence. Apart from Girgaon, Dombivali is another place in Mumbai where the colorful processions can be seen. However, Dombivali is too far from the place where I was staying. In order to reach there, I had to start a lot early than I did for Girgaon.
But the best part of Gudi Padwa will be these women dressed in their traditional attire riding their Bullets. Since it is auspicious to purchase new vehicle on this day, many like to take the first ride during the festival itself.
Look at these cute children showing off their attires. Their confidence just makes you leave everything and click their pictures.
Gudi Padwa spreads the message of love. Otherwise, how could a Bihari had gathered patience to travel all the way to Maharashtra in a train that was 5 hour late and then run from a place to another in the burning heat of March. I’ll certainly try to visit another city of Maharashtra to see a more raw version of this festival.