My heartiest greetings to you and members of your family on the occasion of Ugadi, marking the beginning of the ‘Plava’ Telugu New Year! The Telugus, as we know, also give each New Year a fresh name. This Ugadi, we bid farewell to Sharvari, the outgoing year and welcome, Plava, the new year into our lives. I take this opportunity to wish everyone health, prosperity, happiness and harmony in the year ahead.
The word ‘Ugadi’ is believed to have been derived from a combination of the words ‘Yug’ (age) and ‘Adi’ (beginning) standing for the beginning of a new age. The new year is seen as a harbinger of good tidings as one moves forward with hope and optimism towards a brighter future.
Reflecting the rich diversity of our country, the new year is celebrated under various names—while it is Ugadi for the people of the two Telugu states, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, it is welcomed as Yugadi in Karnataka. The people of Maharashtra celebrate it as GudiPadwa and in Tamil Nadu, it is observed as Puthandu. While our Malayalee sisters and brothers celebrate the occasion as Vishu in Kerala, it is called PanaSankranthi in Odisha. Punjab sways to the festivities of Baisakhi, while PoilaBoishakh ushers in the new year in West Bengal and BohagBihu marks the beginning of the new year in Assam. The names may differ, but the common cultural thread, binding the festive spirit suffused with joy, hope and togetherness is universally the same.
On the occasion of Ugadi, families come together and decorate their homes in a variety of ways, including mango leaf hangings (toranam) at the door, which are believed to signify the beginning of growth and success. On Ugadi, people visit temples, offer prayers, seek blessings from their elders, and greet their near and dear ones.
Ugadi celebrations, in the two Telugu states, are marked by the preparation of ‘Ugadi Pachhadi’, a special culinary preparation which combines six flavours epitomising the many-hued experiences of life. UgadiPachhadi has the sweetness of jaggery, the bitterness of neem, the tanginess of raw mango is laced with salt, spicy chillies and sour tamarind. The Telugus customarily usher in the new year with this popular medley of flavours representing the need to savour and relish every flavour that life brings with each passing moment.
Plava has several connotations, the most popular one being that of a raft which helps us cross a river. It is my earnest hope that“Plava” will make our sailing smooth in all areas of human endeavour, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life on an unprecedented scale.
My warm Ugadi greetings to one and all once again! May the New Year usher in happier times in everyone’s life with good health, prosperity and peace!