Ugadi through Sadhguru's eyes
Deccan Chronicle.| Twinkle Gurnani
Ugadi is New Year's Day in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka
Yoga guru and founder of the Isha Foundation, Jagadish Vasudev (Sadhguru). (By Arrangement)
A new beginning, in consonance with the orbital patterns involving the Sun, the Moon and Planet Earth — that’s what the Telugu New Year’s Day is all about
Ugadi is New Year’s Day in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka. It falls on the first day of the Hindu lunisolar calendar month of Chaitra.
The day is replete with rituals and customs, starting with waking up at dawn, bathing from head to toe, cleaning the threshold and sprinkling it with a mixture of cow-dung and water, decorating the front door with Kemmannu (EXPLAIN), mango leaves and colourful rangoli, and eating Bevu Bella (EXPLAIN). These traditions are either rooted in science and logic, or have some connection with astrology.
Yoga guru and founder of the Isha Foundation, Jagadish Vasudev, better known as Sadhguru, who is currently on a 100-day motorcycle journey across Europe to spread awareness about his Global Save Soil movement, shares with us the significance of this festival of new beginnings.
He says Ugadi is considered the beginning of the New Year, and not the 1st of January, because it has significance in terms of what happens on the planet, in human physiology, and in the human mind during this time.
Planetary influence on the human body
Explaining the connection between the human body and astrological events he says, "The sun’s influence on everything in the world is huge. But the moon, which has no way of emitting energy like the sun, also has a tremendous impact on our systems because of its closeness to the planet. The very source of our birth is connected to the movement of the moon because the cycles of the moon and the natural, biological cycles in the feminine body are one hundred percent connected. So, when we want to understand the way life is happening to us from the outside, we look to the sun. When we want to understand the way life is happening from within, we look to the moon."
The traditional Indian calendar
Sadhguru believes that those cultures that regard what happens within the human being as far more important than what happens around them chose to follow the lunar calendar or a lunisolar one. He says, "The traditional Indian calendar, known as a panchangam, is a lunisolar calendar that takes into consideration both the movement of the moon and the movement of the earth in relation to the sun because we are interested in both inner and external wellbeing."
Ugadi marks the beginning of the time of growth
"In various states, New Year is called by various names," explains Sadhguru. "At this time, the planet is in its closest relationship with the sun. Summer is the best time of the year for growth. Plants grow best in summer because photosynthesis is at its best."
A time of realization and fulfilment
Speaking about the many positives at this time of year, he says, "This is the time when life is at its highest level of intensity on this planet. And that is a good thing for human beings too if they are conscious of it. Life is happening with such effervescence around you; it is definitely a good time for you to do things with yourself. This time of the year is also the Uttarayana – when the sun’s run with relation to Earth is on the northern side. In the northern hemisphere, this part of the year is particularly significant – it is the time for realization and fulfilment."
The science behind rituals
Explaining the importance of one of the age-old customs followed during Ugadi, Sadhguru says "It is a very wise tradition to start off the New Year with neem flowers and jaggery, together. Everyone knows today that neem is not bad – it is just bitter. Most bitter things, or what you think is bitter in your life, are essential. Every time life tries to push you into a larger possibility, you resist. So, it becomes bitter. What you consider bitterness is only because of your resistance. Bitterness is also good. If you do not accept what you think is bitter, then you will rule out all the possibilities of life."
The festival of Ugadi is all about accepting life with all its glory and gloom, he says, adding, the wisdom behind the tradition of eating not just sweets but also something bitter is understanding that life has many possibilities.
Best time for transformation
With the trend of questioning everything, many people are moving away from age-old customs. With urbanisation, many cultural practices aimed at ensuring a balanced life have been done away with. But at times like Ugadi, people feel the need to re-connect with some basic religious and spiritual practices.
Sadguru feels this is the best time to bring about a transformation in oneself, as the power of the sun is at its peak. Listing some practices that can be incorporated into the Ugadi Day schedule, Sadhguru suggests, "Spend at least a few hours of the day in a powerfully consecrated space. If you have spiritual practices, please invest in them. It will be very good if you take a dip in a natural source of water like a river, a clean freshwater lake, or even an ocean. Stay in the water for at least 12–20 minutes. This will be the best way to make use of that day."