On Tuesday morning, 21-year-old Shalmali Satche will join hands with the rest of her family before a gudi (see box) as part of the traditional Gudi Padwa puja.
But ask her what the festival is all about, and she admits she hasn’t a clear idea.
“We put up the gudi each year only for my grandmother, who is quite traditional,” said Satche, an economics student from St Xavier’s College. “For me, the New Year is not about rituals or the traditional food. I see it as a family get-together and a lunch party.”
Satche is one of the many young Maharashtrians in the city for whom Gudi Padwa is just another holiday, with little significance as a religious or cultural festival.
“I know that the New Year is considered an auspicious day, and I like being with my family, but I don’t particularly care about the celebrations,” said Eesha Phanse (24), an art dealer from Thane who is visiting her parents in Goa for Gudi Padwa this year. For her, the lack of interest stems from her distance from religion as a whole.
The Telugu, Kannada and Sindhi populations of the city also celebrate their New Years in this season, and these communities too have their share of youth who are indifferent to the traditions.
“The younger generation of Sindhis are not really into their culture. It is embarrassing, but that is the case,” said Aditi Dabrai (25), a merchandiser who will be working as usual on Cheti Chand, the Sindhi New Year, which falls on Wednesday.
“There is no official holiday for the festival in India, so it requires a lot of effort to celebrate it.”
Engineering student Parinaya Joshi, though, proudly declares she is traditional. “Most of my friends just want to use the New Year’s holiday to hang out with each other, but I dedicate my day to the family,” said the 18-year-old, who is half Maharashtrian and half Telugu.
At Joshi’s Thane home, there are pujas for both, Gudi Padwa and Ugadi, the Telugu New Year, which fall on the same day. “The food is also of two kinds, and I am familiar with both,” she added.