The Bold Voice of J&K

Gudi Padwa & Navreh signify India’s Diversity

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OMKAR DATTATRAY

The festival of Gudi Padwa of the Marathas in Maharashtra and Goa the Navreh festival of Kashmiri Pandits symbolize and signify the rich cultural diversity and it is the litmus test of the doctrine of unity and diversity of India .Both the Marathas and Kashmiri Pandits celebrate with great enthusiasm and fervor their new year day on the first day of the Chaitra Shuklpaksh every year and it is in fact the celebration of the unity in diversity.It points to the fact that different communities in India celebrate their new year in different way as per their tradition ,ritual and custom and it reflects the vibrant and dynamic cultural diversity of India and we should resolve to uphold and strengthen this diversity for the sake of preserving our diverse cultural landscape .It is no coincidence that the Marahtas and Kashmiri Pandits celebrate their new year on the first day of Chaitra month of the Hindu Calendar .Gudi Padwa and Nevrah are the spring festivals and are celebrated with gaiety by the two communities concerned. We should take pride in our rich cultural diversity where the different communities celebrate their festivals including the new year occasion in their unique and different way as per their custom and traditions .Gudi Padwa is a spring festival marking the start of the lunisolar new year for Maharathi and Konkani Hindus .It is celebrated in and around Maharashtra, Goa &Daman at the start of Chaitra ,the first month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar .The festival is characterized by colorful floor decorations called rangoli ,a special gudi dvaja ,which is a saari or dhoti or other piece of cloth garlanded with flowers ,mango &neem leaves ,a sugar crystal garland called gathi ,topped with upturned silver or copper vessels .Celebrations also include street gathering ,dancing and festive foods .In Maharashtra the first day of the bright phase of the moon is called gudi paadwaa .Konkani Hindus variously refer to the day as sausara padavo or saurara padyo .Telugu Hindus celebrate the same occasion as Ugadi ,while Kannada Hindus in Karnataka refer to it as Yugadi .Sindhi people celebrate the day as Cheti Chand ,it is observed as the emergence of the day of Jhulelal .Prayers are offered to Jhulelal ,and the festival is celebrated by making delicacies like Tahiri -sweet rice and sai bhaji .However this is not the universal new year for all Hindus .For some ,such as those in and near Gujarat ,the new year festivities coincide with the five day Diwali festival .For many others ,the new year falls on Vaisakhi between 13 and 15 April ,according to the solar cycle part of the Hindu lunisolar calendar and this is by far the most popular not only among Hindus of the Indian subcontinent but also among Buddhists and Hindus of Southeast Asia. Gudi Padwa signifies the arrival of spring and the reaping of rabi crops .The festival is linked to the day on which the Hindu god Brahma created time and the universe .But the Hindu new year day is celebrated in different way by the various Hindu communities and this shows the diversity and richness of Indian culture .Kashmiri Pandits have a cultural history of 5000 years and they are celebrating their festivals in their unique way as per their tradition and custom .The Kashmiri Pandits celebrate their new year as Navrah and observe and celebrate it in a unique way exhibiting the cultural diversity and their rich cultural ethos .On the evening of the Amavasha of the first fortnight ,the Kashmiri Pandits fill the rice in a plate called Thal and keep some cooked rice ,curd ,milk ,flowers ,pen ,KP Almanac called Janthri and some coins and walnuts in the thal and it is called Thal Barun and on the morning of the first day of the second fortnight of Chaitra the KP’s take a glimpse of the thal and then they start the days chorus. The rice kept on the plate is cooked and a salty yellow preparation called in Kashmiri Parlance Thair is prepared and all the family members partake Thair and feel good and enjoy it especially the children. The new year day is called Navreh and is celebrated with great enthusiasm and pomp and show .Even in the exile and displacement ,the KP’s have upheld their culture and tradition and they celebrate their festivals with fervor .In their 35the year of displacement from valley they have celebrated their new year day Navreh with traditional gaiety and enthusiasm and the Kashmiri Pandits take pride in their cultural heritage and celebrate all their festivals even in their displacement .The KP’s are transmitting their cultural heritage and legacy to the coming generations and they deserve all praise for conserving and protecting their culture in the trying times and circumstances .On the occasion of the Navreh ,the Kashmiri Pandits visit the gardens and enjoy the beauty of the spring season .Even here in Jammu as well on the third day of the second fortnight of the Hindu calendar month of Chaitra called Zanghtre the the housewives visit their ancestral maternal home and they are given a packet of salt as it is believed to be the good omen and the KP’s also visit some gardens and parks and enjoy the beauty of spring season Here in Jammu ,the Bagwan Shri Gopinath Ashram Udhaywala observes and celebrates the Zangtre and the women folk are provided the Athuroo and a packet of salt .In short the celebration of Gudi Padwa by the Maharashtrains and the Navreh by the Kashmiri Pandits and the celebration of the Hindu new year day by different Hindu communities in different places in the country in different ways signify the rich cultural diversity of India and we should take pride on our rich cultural heritage and pass on the culture to the future generations .It also shows the unity in diversity of India .Let us preserve the pristine beauty and grandeur of our rich and vibrant culture.
(The author is a columnist,social and KP activist)

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