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All about Hindu New Year: Significance, History & Celebrations

All about Hindu New Year: Significance, History & Celebrations

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Hindu New Year, also known as Vikram Savant, was celebrated by millions of Hindus today. Let us know everything about it today.  

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The cultural diversity of our secular country India, one nation, one occasion, different celebrations. Pic courtesy: Twitter: Suraj Balakrishnan.

Vikram Samvant: 

What is Vikram Samvant? It is a Hindu Calendar historically used in the Indian Subcontinent 57-58 BCE by King Samrat Vikramaditya after whom Vikram Samvant is named. 

Vikram Samvat is generally 57 years ahead of the Gregorian Calendar (English Calendar), except from January to April when it is ahead by 56 years. 

Just like the English Calendar, Hindu Calendar has 12 months in 1 year. The year is called Sanvastar in the Hindi calendar. Just like that there are 60 Sanvastars (Years) divided into 20-20-20, 3 parts named, Brahmavishanti (1-20 years), Vishnu Vishanti (21-40 years), and Shiv Vishanti (41-60 years). 

And currently according to Vikram Samvant, it is 2080. “Nal” is the name of this year. 2079 was named Rakshas. 

Hindu New Year:

Different regions in India celebrate New Year at different periods. It depends on whether the region follows Solar or Lunar calendars. 

According to the Solar Calendar, New Year is celebrated in Vaishakh/Baisakh month in mostly Northern regions of India such as Baisakhi in Punjab, Bihu in Assam, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, Vishu in Kerala, Pana Sankranti or Odia Nababarsa in Odisha and Poila Boishakh in Bengal as an annual spring harvest festival. 

Also, In Gujarat, the new year is celebrated as the day after Diwali. As per the Hindu Calendar, it falls on Shukla Paksha Pratipada in the Hindu month of Kartik. As per the Indian Calendar based on Lunar Cycle, Kartik is the first month of the year and the New Year in Gujarat falls on the first bright day of Kartik (Ekam).

Whereas the Hindus who follow the Lunar calendar celebrate New Year on the pratipada (first day) of Shukla Paksha of Chaitra month. It is the start of Chaitra month after the last month of the Hindu calendar, Fagun. It is celebrated as Chaitra Navratri in North Western regions of India, Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra, Cheti Chand in Sindh, Ugadi in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Navreh in Kashmir, Sajibu Nongama Panba in Manipur, Samvastar Padwo in Goa & Kerala. 

It is believed that on this day, Hindu lord Brahma created the Universe. 

Let us dig into some of these New Year celebrations across the country. 

Chaitra Navratri: 

Mostly celebrated as the First Navratra of the year it is also said as Vaisakh or Ram Navratra. On the 9th day, the 7th Avatar of Lord Vishnu was born as the son of King Dashrath and his wife Kaushaliya as Lord Ram. 

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Devotees during a procession on the first day of ‘Chaitra Navratri’ festival, in Patna. | PTI Photo

People maintain fast for 9 days and worship nine avatars of Goddess Durga that are Maa Shailputri Puja (Pratipada), Maa Brahmacharini Puja (Dwitiya), Maa Chandraghanta Puja (Tritiya), Maa Kushmanda Puja (Chaturthi), Skandamata Puja (Panchami), Maa Katyayani Puja (Shasthi), Maa Kalaratri Puja (Saptami), Maa Mahagauri Puja (Annapurna Ashtami, Sandhi Puja), Ram Navami, Goddess Siddhidhatri. 

It is an auspicious day for Devi Upasana, which is believed to enlighten the powers of Goddess Durga within us through tapasya and invert consciousness and awareness such as meditation, chanting, worshiping, and fasting for 9 days. 

Gudi Padwa: 

Gudi Padwa is celebrated in Maharashtra as the commencement of a New Year. Padwa comes from the Sanskrit word that means Pratipada or first-day afteAmavasyaya. And Gudi is Vijay Pataka or Victory embolism. It is a celebration of the victory of a Potter Shalivahan on savage enemies through soldiers made of mud and clay that were enlivened by sprinkling water on them. 

As his commendable victory over the bad from this day Shalivahan Shaksha starts in Maharashtrian panchang. 

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Maharashtrian women prepare to celebrate Gudi Padwa | One India.

This day is celebrated by decorating house doors with mango leaves toran and flowers and rangolis along with Gudi made of dand (stick), covered with a cloth or a saree, with neem branch to prevent diseases from entering the house such as chicken pox and smallpox during this season, along with 5 mango leaves, flower garland, a garland made of sugar syrup called patasha, and place a small silver or bronze pot called lotaa with Swastik drawn on its face. 

Delicacies like puran poli, shrikhand puri, etc are eaten on this auspicious day of Maharashtrian Navavarsha. 

Ugadi: 

Ugadi or Yugadi is celebrated as the beginning of the New Year in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Karnataka. Ugadi is made up of two different words – Yug (era) and Adi (new beginning). Thus, Yugadi stands for new beginnings. The belief behind this is that Lord Brahma created the world on this day and that is why it is celebrated as the first day of the Hindu calendar. The festival marks the onset of spring. 

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Ugadi Pachadi thali by Pinterest.

The day begins with a ritual oil bath before sunrise followed by prayers. Oil baths, hoisting a flag at your home, making rangolis, and eating tender Neem leaves are significant rituals followed by Hindus. People also gather to listen to the recitation of Panchanga, which is the general forecast for the year to come. The ritual is called Panchanga Sravanam, during which an elderly and respected person will read the Panchanga of people based on their moon. 

Chetri Chand: 

Cheti Chand and also the birthday of widely followed Sindhi saint Jhulelal is an auspicious occasion celebrated by Hindu Sindhi as the first day of the Sindhi Calendar Chet. It falls on the second day of Chaitra Shukla Paksha. 

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Patron saint Ishtadeva Uderolal also known as Jhulelal.

Cheti Chand also known as Jhulela Jayanti is the birthday of patron saint Ishtadeva Uderolal also known as Jhulelal. Sindhis believe that Uderolal was born in 1007 after they prayed to the Hindu God Varun Devon. They prayed to the Lord on the banks of the River Indus to save them from being persecuted by Muslim king Mirkshah. It is believed that the River God told the people that a divine child would be born in Nasarpur, who came to be known as Saint Jhulelal, and he will save them from the tyrant. 

The Sindhis celebrate Cheti Chand by praying to the God of water to protect them from forced conversions. The festival is marked by observing a fast, making offerings, and praying to the God of water. People worship near water bodies, such as rivers, lakes, and ponds by lighting Jyot Jagan (a diya made of wheat flour with five wicks) and taking Behrana Sahib, an offering consisting of an oil diya, cardamom, sugar, fruits, and Akho. The Behrana Sahib is immersed in the water, and Pallav is sung to receive blessings from the Lord. 

Navreh or Kashmiri New Year is celebrated as Hindu New Year by Kashmiri Pandits. Goddess Sharika is worshiped during Navreh. 

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Navreh Thaal | Courtesy: Dalip Langoo. 

It is believed that the Saptarishi era of the Kashmiri Hindus started on the day of Navreh, 5079 years ago. And Mother Goddess Sharika’s dwelling was on Sharika Parabata (Hari Parabata) where Shapta Rishi gathered. It is an auspicious day as the first ray of sun fell on Chakreshwari and paid honor to her. This moment is considered the beginning of the New Year and the Saptarishi era for astrologers.

On the eve of the new year, the priest (kulguru) of the family provides a religious almanac (nachipatra) for the next year and a scroll (kreel pach) of the local goddess. Then a customary large plate (thali) is filled with rice and offerings like almanac, scroll, dried and fresh flowers, wye herb, new grass, curd, walnuts, pen, ink container, gold and silver coins, salt, cooked rice, wheat cakes and bread and covered on the eve of Navreh.

On the day of the new year, the family members gather together, uncover the thali and view it on the holy day. After seeing (darshan) the thali, each person takes a walnut to be thrown into a river. The walnuts from the thali are dropped in the river as a sign of thanksgiving. Then the family members offer turmeric rice in ghee (tahar) to the goddess at the temple and seek blessings.

The rice and coins represent our daily bread and wealth, the pen and paper a reminder of the quest for learning, the mirror represents retrospection. The calendar signals the changing time and the Deity the Universal Constant, and they together are a reminder of the constancy of changing time. The bitter herb is reminiscent of life’s bitter aspects, to be taken in stride alongside the good. The bitter herb ‘wye’ is usually eaten with walnuts to bring wholeness of life’s experiences in the admixture. 

Sajibu Nongama Panbu: 

Sajibu Nongma Pānba, also called Meetei Cheiraoba or Sajibu Cheiraoba, is the lunar new year festival of the people who follow the religion of Sanamahism in the state of Manipur. The meaning derives from Sajibu – the first month of the year of Meitei lunar calendar, Nongma – the first date of a Month, and Pānba – to be. It means the first day of the month of Sajibu. 

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Nongma Panba Meitei Cheiraoba Ching Kaba : thousands of peoples including children climbed the nearest hill on this day – Meitei New year – at Chinga Hill, Singjamei and at Chajing Lakpa Hill, Lilong | Photo Credit :: Deepak Oinam. 

It is believed by Sanamahists, The Sajibu Nongma Panba started during the reign of King Maliya Fambalcha (1359 BC-1329 BC) also known as Koi-Koi as he made the Meetei calendar and is also the birthday of the King. 

The Meitei people celebrate the festival with great fanfare. 

Samvastar Padwo: 

It is celebrated majorly by Konkani Brahmins just like Gudi Padwa and in some connected parts of Kerala. 

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Women celebrating Savastar Padwo in Goa. Photo credits: Twitter.
  • India has a vast variety of cultural diversity that varies through the regional changes. Hinduism is being practiced as a religion by a majority in this country. There is diversity even in a single culture. 

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