Sweets are browning slowly in the oven and flowers spill out of the gudi (a cloth adorned with brocade at the tip of a bamboo over which neem leaves and red flowers are tied; considered an auspicious symbol) as Maharashtrian families come together to celebrate Gudi Padwa — New Year — on Sunday. But, many complain, much of the young generation doesn’t appreciate the significance of this ancient festival.
Shyama Kulkarni is planning a traditional family day, but, she says, her two children — one of whom lives in the US — will not be celebrating. “Young people don’t realise why Gudi Padwa is celebrated. The significance of the day will die out unless children are educated about the festival. Youngsters have become westernised and see only January 1 as New Year,” said the 61-year-old from Bandra.
Gudi Padwa is one of the three and a half days that are auspicious in the Maharashtrian calendar and is dedicated to Lord Brahma. The festival marks the beginning of spring, as the crops have been harvested and mangoes come into season.
Traditionally, Maharashtrian families celebrate with sweets, flowers and a large family meal. In villages, houses are swept clean and plastered with fresh cow dung. Vibrant rangoli adorns doorsteps, signifying the spring colours.
However, amongst the younger generation, it is the “westernised” New Year of January 1 that has replaced the traditional celebration.
Manasi Phadke (20), a student, said she would never think of Gudi Padwa as New Year, but that her generation has a responsibility to keep Maharashtrian culture alive. “If young people don’t learn what their festivals are, then how do we carry them on?” she said.
Public relations executive Ajinkya Mane (30) agreed that the festival must remain alive. “I will spend the day with my family,” he said. “We will make sweets, eat together and go shopping.”