Feast on healthy traditional delicacies on Gudi Padwa

Gudi Pawda

One of the most auspicious dates in the Hindu calendar, Gudi Padwa is essentially a Maharashtrian festival. Gudi Padwa is the first day of Chaitra month that marks the beginning of the New Year according to lunisolar Hindu calendar. The word Padva (Padwa) comes from the Sanskrit word Paddava/paddavo, which stands for the first day of the bright phase of the moon called pratipada in Sanskrit.

It has many names such as Samvatsar Padvo, Paadyami, Yugadi, Ugadi, Cheti Chand or and Navreh. It is also celebrated in the North East state of Manipur and is known as Sajibu Nongma Panba Cheiraoba. The Marwari of Rajasthan celebrate the same day as their new year day Thapna. The Hindus of Bali and Indonesia also celebrate their new year on the same day as Nyepi. Navreh amongst Kashmiri Pandits.

The Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Kodava and the Konkani diaspora in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu and Kerala celebrate the festival with great fanfare; gatherings of the extended family and a sumptuous feast are ‘de rigueur’. The day begins with ritual showers with oil, followed by prayers. This tri-state festival could be the result of the common rulers from the Satavahana Dynasty.


a. Religious

According to the Brahma Purana, this is the day on which Brahma created the world after the deluge and time began to tick from this day forth.

Another mythological legend connects Gudi Padwa with Ramayana. Lord Rama killed Vali on the first day of Chaitra. The Shalivahana calendar commences with the auspicious event of Gudi Padwa marking the triumph of Gautamiputra Shatakarni. History accounts the defeat of Huns at the hands of Shakas on the very day.

Symbolic representation of Rama’s victory and happiness on returning to Ayodhya, after slaying Ravan. Since a symbol of victory is always held high, so is the gudi (flag).

b. Historical

This day also commemorates the commencement of the Shaka calendar after Gautamiputra Satakarni, also known as Shalivahan defeated sakas in battle in 78 A.D.

The Sindhi community celebrates the festival of Cheti Chand day after Ugadi / Gudi Padwa in honour of the birth of Ishtadeva Uderolal, popularly known as Jhulelal, the patron saint of the Sindhis. This day is considered to be very auspicious and is celebrated with pomp and gaiety. On this day, people worship water – the elixir of life.

c. Chronological

Being the first day of the first month of a year, Gudhi Padwa is the New Year’s Day for Marathi people. Maharashtra’s Great Warrior, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, was the person who started the Gudi Padwa celebrations after his victory. The tradition of raising the Gudi was initiated by Shivaji and from then on has been followed by every Marathi household to welcome the New Year.

d. Agricultural

 India is a predominantly agrarian society. Thus celebrations and festivals are often linked to the turn of the season and to the sowing and reaping of crops. This day marks the end of one agricultural harvest and the beginning of a new one. In this context, the Gudi Padwa is celebrated at the end of the Rabi season.

e. Seasonal

On this day, the sun assumes a position above the point of intersection of the equator and the meridians. According to the Hindu calendar, this marks the commencement of the Vasanta ritu or the spring season.

The Gudi is observed at the entrance of Maharashtrain households. So what is it? A Gudi is a stick covered in a bright cloth adorned with brocade or zari that has been topped with sugar crystals, neem leaves, twig of mango leaves and a garland of red flowers. This is covered by a silver or copper pot in an inverted position.Special Dishes

Traditionally, families are supposed to begin the festivities by eating the bittersweet leaves of the neem tree. Sometimes, a paste of neem leaves is prepared and mixed with dhane ( coriander ), gul/gur ( jaggery ), and tamarind. All the members of the family consume this paste, which is believed to purify the blood and strengthen the body’s immune system against diseases.

The traditional Maharashtrain food fare on this day consists of Shrikhand & Puri or Puran Poli. The Konkanis make Kanangachi Kheer which is a sweet dish made of sweet potato, coconut milk, jaggery and rice.

Ugadi Pachadi. It is a season for ripe mangoes spreading its aroma in the air and the fully blossomed neem tree that makes the air healthy. Also, jaggery made with fresh crop of sugarcane adds a renewed flavor to the typical dishes associated with Ugadi. Ugadi pachadi is one such dish that has become synonymous with Ugadi. It is made of new jaggery, raw mango pieces, neem flowers, salt to taste, green chilli and new tamarind which truly reflect life – a combination of six different tastes sweet, sour, spice, salt, tanginess and bitter tastes symbolizing happiness, disgust, anger, fear, surprise and sadness.

In Karnataka a special dish called Obbattu or Holige, is prepared. It consists of a filling (gram and jaggery/sugar boiled and made in to a paste) stuffed in a flat roti-like bread. It is usually eaten hot or cold with ghee or milk topping or coconut milk at some places of Karnataka. In Andhra Pradesh, a special dish called Bobbattu (Polelu) (Puran Poli) (Oliga) are prepared on this occasion. This special dish is called Bhakshalu in Telangana.

Let us see how some of the ingredients used in the above dishes helps provide Health Benefits.

Medicinal values of Neem

1. Weight Loss : Drink neem flowers juice to reduce weight. You can further boost your metabolism by using these flowers in combination with lemon and honey.

2. Reduces Blood Sugar : Neem leaves lower your blood sugar levels by enhancing insulin receptor sensitivity. Additionally they improve blood circulation by dilating the blood vessels. These leaves also help in providing better blood sugar control by lowering your dependence anti-diabetic drugs.

3. Restricts growth of tumor : Neem Leaf Glycoprotein or NLGP, a purified form of protein from neem leaves, inhibits growth of tumour cells. Instead of targeting the cancer cells directly, this protein modulates the immune cells present in the cancer environment and blood. This in turn restricts further growth of the tumour thereby playing a key role in the treatment of cancer.

4. Relieves fungal infection : People suffering from athlete’s foot, ringworm infection or any other fungal infection should try neem oil to treat fungal infections. As neem contains nimbidol and gedunin, medicinal compounds which posses antifungal activity thus help in killing fungus. Alternatively you can also use neem leaves paste to heal and prevent these infections.

5. Treat head lice : Neem is well-known for its potent antibacterial and antimicrobial agent. However, not many people are aware of the fact that neem oil can be used to kill head lice. So, if your child has lice and you don’t want to use chemicals, try this natural remedy for effective results.

6. Acts as mosquito repellent : In addition to being an elixir for healthy life due to its myriad health benefits, neem is well-known for its mosquito repellent properties.

7. Effective against skin problems : If you are suffering from acne, wrinkles, skin pigmentation, black heads, dry skin and other skin infections, then there’s one single remedy that might help you out to deal with every skin problem – neem leaves. As these leaves are known to posses antibacterial, anti fungal and antiviral properties, they soothe irritation and reduce inflammation.

8. Helps to treat hepatitis : Due to its potent anti-viral action, neem has been used to treat hepatitis. It works by eliminating the harmful toxins from the body and thus, lowering the toxic load on the liver.

9. Prevents oral problems : In many parts of rural India, neem twigs are still used to brush teeth instead of toothpaste and brushes. The antimicrobial and anti fungal properties of neem play a key role in prevention of gum disease, toothache, bad breath and mouth ulcers. Apart from this, it also acts as a powerful natural remedy to get whiter teeth.

10. Relieves symptoms of amoebiasis : Neem leaves act as an effective natural remedy against the amoebiasis parasite due to its antibiotic activity. When applied on the stomach, neem paste reduces the intestinal inflammation and painful cramps commonly seen in children suffering from amoebiasis.

Health Benefits of Jaggery

1. Prevents constipation: Jaggery helps prevent and relieve constipation by stimulating bowel movements. It activates the digestive enzymes in our body and thus helps in proper digestion of your food. This is the reason, why most people tend to eat jaggery after their meals.

2. Good for anemics: Jaggery is an excellent source of iron, a mineral that plays a key role in the production of hemoglobin. Hence, adding jiggery to your food preparations or eating a small amount of jaggery can actually fulfill your daily requirement of iron. This in turn, lowers your chance of suffering from iron-deficiency anemia.

3. Cleanses the liver : Eat a small piece of jaggery. It helps detoxify your liver by flushing out harmful toxins from your body.

4. Treats flu-like symptoms : Cough and cold, water retention, bloating and migraine are some of the minor health problems that most of us experience on an everyday basis. However, you can fight these symptoms with the help of jaggery. All you need to do is mix it with warm water and drink or add it in your tea instead of sugar to reap its benefits.

5. Increases immunity : Our body’s ability to fight infections and keep us healthy is greatly dependent on our immune system. Jaggery is loaded with antioxidants and minerals like zinc and selenium, which help prevent free-radical damage and also boost resistance against infections.

Kanangachi (Sweet Potato) Kheer

1. Sweet potatoes are considered low on the glycemic index scale, and recent research suggests they may reduce episodes of low blood sugar and insulin resistance in people with diabetes.

2. Because of its high fiber content, sweet potatoes help to prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract.

3. Sweet potatoes are high in both vitamin C and beta-carotene offer an immunity boost from their powerful combination of nutrients.

4. Choline is a very important and versatile nutrient in sweet potatoes that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic

5. Sweet potatoes pack a powerful nutritional punch. They have got over 400% of your daily needs for vitamin A in one medium spud, as well as loads of fiber and potassium.

6. Coconuts milk is highly nutritious and rich in fibre, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. Unlike cow’s milk, coconut milk is lactose free so can be used as a milk substitute by those with lactose intolerance.

7. Plus all the benefits of Jaggery make it unique

Health Benefits of Pachadi

1. Ingredient Neem has anti bacterial and anti fungal properties. Neem flowers, leaves, bark of the stem and fruits all parts of the tree has medicinal values. It gives a good cleanse for body. people use neem to treat skin diseases, viral fevers, diabetes, malaria and many other diseases. Neem will kill intestinal parasites. Neem is used in many Ayurvedic preparations.

2. Green Chili improves immune system and maintains skin health, eye vision.

3. Tamarind aids better digestion process.

4. Green mango improves the blood circulation.

5. Salt balances the sugar levels in the blood and prevents dehydration.

Health Benefits of Puran Poli

1. Puran poli made with whole-wheat flour is rich in complex carbs, fibre, gives B complex vitamins, certain minerals.

2. The dals used in it are loaded with good amount of protein. You will be surprised to know that when puran poli is made with a combination of cereal i.e. wheat flour and protein from dals, it will provide you with good quality protein.

3. It also provides all the required amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein.

4. Jaggery used in puran poli preparation is loaded with iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus. It helps in releasing energy slowly, as it is digested slower than sugar. Jaggery also aids in fast digestion.

5. Additionally, the presence of green cardamom powder, saffron, nutmeg powder, mace powder in puran poli makes it a powerhouse of essential volatile oils, which helps in boosting digestion. They also have antispasmodic, carminative, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.

Buying gold, new vehicle or anything new is considered to bring prosperity if done on this day.

Go ahead and enjoy this festive delicacy…but keep it as festive delicacy and do not gorge on it, it is to be enjoyed only during festival season.

Hope the new year has all the Colors of Happiness & Laughter. Happy & Healthy Gudi Padwa!

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