India is one of the most dynamic and diverse countries in the world. True to its diversity, there is no “One New Year’s Day” that the entire country celebrates. Every region/state has its own language, customs, traditions, food and even its own New Year! On March 17th, Sanskriti of NJ celebrated Dakshin Mahotsav – "Ugadi," a New Year festival celebrated in many parts of South India. More than 200 people attended the festivities at the Community Center, Livingston. The Chief Guest for the evening was Mr. Upendra Chivukula, Commissioner to the NJ Board of Public Utilities. Here is a link to the clip of the event shown on Livingston Television: https://www.facebook.com/LivingstonTV/videos/1854843291226638/
History of the festival:
Ugadi is derived from the Sanskrit words yuga (age) and ādi (beginning): “the beginning of a new age”. Ugadi is the New Year's Day for the Hindus of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana states in India.The first month of the year is called Chaitra and Ugadi is the first day of Chaitra. The festival is called Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra. The essence of this festival is to leave the past behind and start afresh with positive expectations. The day also marks the beginning of spring season, which is a universal symbol of new beginnings.
A huge team of Volunteers worked tirelessly and selflessly to colorfully decorate the stage with Ugadi themed props creatively crafted by Srini Salandra and his team. The entrance to the festival was decorated with Rangoli art and the photo props were so beautifully set up with colorful saree fabric and fresh flowers that every single family stopped by to take some memorable family pictures to commemorate the occasion. The decoration team even custom-made a ramp for a fashion show.
Maintaining the Ugadi tradition means serving “Ugadi Pachadi,” which is made of neem flowers, raw mango, tamarind, jaggery, pepper powder, coconut and salt. It is a mixture that has six different tastes i.e. sweet, sour, salty, pungent, spicy, and bitter. It signifies that life is a mixture of happiness, sadness, anger, disgust, fear, and surprise. Ugadi pachadi was the most popular starter of the evening. This was accompanied by dinner comprising of carefully selected mouth-watering dishes from all over India.
The two emcees, Chitra Maridi & Ratnakar Pingili, hosted the event with live cultural songs and dance performances that kept audience entertained for over 3 hours. The opening performance was a Ganesh Vandana immediately followed by a popular classical number that depicted unity in diversity and national integration. The evening was full of songs, medleys including devotional, classical and movie favorites as well as a classical Bharatanatyam performance. The highlight of the evening was a well-orchestrated Adult Fashion Show that showcased the different kinds of sarees worn in different Indian states.