Photograph (used here for representational purposes only): Shutterstock

The onset of spring brings in several festivities. Thanks to the multitude of cultures in India, we get to celebrate spring many times over: Baisakhi with the Punjabis, Navroze with the Zoroastrian Parsis, Bihu with the Assamese, Gudi Padwa with the Maharashtrians and so on. In Andhra Pradesh, the onset of spring is celebrated as Ugadi. It also marks the beginning of the New Year. Ugadi itself is made up of two words: Yuga, which means ‘era’ and aadi that can be translated as ‘the beginning’. It is thus that Ugadi celebrates the beginning of a new era. The idea of the new beginning has its roots in the belief that it was on this day that Brahma created the universe and with it began the Satyug or the era of truth and justice. Ugadi also marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring, which symbolizes new life… and thus a new beginning. (DON’T MISS More stories on Festivals and Celebrations) Also Read - Entertainment News Today April 9, 2020: Zoa Morani Feels Much Better Says She is Responding Well to The Treatment

How is Ugadi celebrated in Andhra Pradesh?

Ugadi is dedicated to Brahma but it is also believed that Vishnu incarnated himself in the Matsya avatar on this very day. Preparations for Ugadi celebrations begin much before the actual day. Weeks in advance, homes receive a fresh coat of paint and the traditional ritual of spring cleaning begins. On the day of Ugadi, the house is decorated in a manner not unlike the decorations in Maharashtra. Twigs of mango leaves and brightly-colored flowers adorn the doorways, elaborate rangolis are made outside the main door and in courtyards and new clothes are worn to celebrate the new beginning. Also Read - Shocking! Government Helpline Receives 92,000 Calls on Domestic Abuse, Violence Amid Lockdown

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The day begins early; women and men have an oil bath, usually with sesame oil, following which families visit a temple to pay their respects to the local deity. One of the highlights of Ugadi celebrations in Andhra Pradesh is the reading out of the almanac or the Panchangasravanam by learned priests who also make predictions for the coming year. Traditionally, this reading out would happen in a temple or a village square but today, all you need to do is turn on your television set!

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Like with every festival, food is an integral part of Ugadi celebrations. As in the case of the Gudi Padwa prasad, neem forms an important element of Ugadi Pachchadi, a special preparation that is made on the day. It is a mixture of neem, raw mango, tamarind juice, green chillies, jaggery, ripe bananas and a pinch of salt. The taste of each of these ingredients, bitter, tangy, sour, spicy, sweet and salty is believed to symbolize life itself and its various experiences: sorrow, joy, anger, fear, disgust and surprise.

WATCH: How to make Ugadi Pachadi

Marking the onset of spring and indeed the New Year, Ugadi is also the day when people undertake new business ventures or personal projects.

This year, Ugadi will be celebrated across Andhra Pradesh on Friday, April 8 ushering in a long weekend. If you are thinking of giving all the action a miss, here are a few suggestions for quick getaways.

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