All the Happy Ugadi, Gudi Padva messages are a reminder of the festival of spring, according to the Hindu calender the first day of spring also marks the first day of the year. Marathi people call it Gudi Padwa and the Kannada folk call it Ugadi.
Hindus are clearly known for having a million odd festivals all with some mythological background.What I find amazing about Ugadi is the metaphor that it acts as. I remember as a child, every Ugadi/Gudi Padva I would be expected to wake up early, my mother would gladly oil my head do a tiny tilak and then I would go off to decorate the house with mango leaves and flowers, called the 'torana'. I'm part marathi and part kanndiga because of which we have ugadi and gudi padwa, there would be a gudi or a kalash that we would put up on our terrace symbolic of a house that celebrates the coming of spring.
It is said that what you do for ugadi you will continue to do for the rest of the year (Year long blogging sounds great!) so you do the right things say the right prayers and basically hope for a great harvest!
Back to the metaphor story, as a child, I know I dreaded this festival for one reason, eating a tiny (one leaf at max) portion of neem leaves. There would be your usual spread of amazing lunch with shrikhand or kheer and lots of food. But there is a mix of neem leaves and jaggery and god save my soul, but I hated it. My mum tells me it's to cleanse my system, neem is known for its medicinal qualities and the jaggery kills the bitter after taste, but what it is really symbolic of is life itself.
When you are offered the neem+jaggery, it is a mild suggestion that life in the new year isn't going to be a bed of roses. It's going to have equal proportions of bitter sadness, grief, failure and then there is going to be jaggery that will kill the after taste. That makes so much sense. While everyone wishes that only good things happen to each of us and our loved ones, there is no denying that life isn't going to be fair. It's going to have its ups and downs but we have to be able to acknowledge and celebrate the chaos. If we want good things, bad things will tag along. But neither will last forever.
Oh all this gyaan on neem leaves and jaggery still doesn't make me a fan of eating it. Medicinal value, metaphors, goodness, mythology, religion call it what you will. It'll take a LOT of water and coaxing before I voluntarily put that leaf in my mouth.