Today is the Telugu New Year. Ugadi marks the first day of the Telugu calendar – Chaitra Sudhdha Paadyami. Every year has a name. This year is called ‘Vikruta’ (Vikruta nama samvatsaram).
Ugadi is also celebrated in other states with different names. Ugadi usually comes around March or April. By this time, there are no traces of winter and we can already feel the heat of summer. There are fresh green mangoes everywhere. All the trees are blooming with new leaves and flowers. This is the season for Jasmine (mallepoolu). The fragrances of Jasmine, Neem and Mango fills the air.
Traditionally, we wear new clothes, go to the temple, and make Ugadi Pachchadi(chutney). Ugadi Pachchadi is a mix of six different tastes (shadruchulu). It is made with tamarind, mango, jaggery, salt, chilli powder and neem flowers. This symbolizes the different emotions and experiences of life and prepares us for the year ahead. It tastes very good. We usually add banana and sometimes even coconut pieces. We also make pulihora (Tamarind Rice), payasam (Kheer), bobbatlu (Puran Poli) etc. When me and my brother were young, we used to eat a lot of the pachchadi all day. That was our favorite part of the festival.
Being away from India, I miss all the fun of the festivals. In India, everybody around you is celebrating it. You get a day off from work (if you are in AP of course) and we can feel the festive air around us. I miss all that here. But, I want my son to learn about all our festivals. I make it a point tell him what festival it is, what we do for the festival and other things related to it. He is too young to understand, but, it is important to us that he knows Indian cultures and traditions.
The Ugadi pachchadi I made today came out very tasty. My son did not like it though. I also made pulihora. My son was very happy to wear a new dress and eat pulihora. Hopefully if we keep following the traditions year after year, he will eventually learn and remember our culture.