Ugadi: A New Year of Reflections

Ugadi: A New Year of Reflections

Ugadi is the festival celebrated by all Hindus to mark the beginning of the New Year according to the Hindu calendar, Panchanga (this year, it is on 8th of April according to the Gregorian calendar). The word “Panchanga” is two-part. “Pancha” means five and “anga” means attribute. That is, Panchanga refers to the 5 attributes of the day. The attributes are as following: 

-Tithi: represents the phase of the moon that day; 15 in all

-Vasara: name of the day just like Monday, Tuesday, etc.; 7 in all

-Nakshatra: the star within which the moon is present that day; 27 in all

-Yoga: result of combined movement of the sun and the moon; 27 in all

-Karana: there are 2 karanas per tithi; 11 in all

 You might be wondering why I’m dwelling on the details of the Hindu calendar in a blog post dedicated to the festival Ugadi. Ugadi, in my opinion is more a time to reflect than celebrate. Of course, the fun part is there. We wear new clothes, cook delicacies, and exchange “bevu-bella”, a paste made of neem and jaggery. This paste, by the way, represents disappointment and happiness that we experience in life. It is meant to remind us that life is a mixture of happy and not-so-happy events. We need to start the New Year with this in mind; we need to have realistic expectations of our life. That’s what bevu-bella is intended for.

It does not end there. There is more to Ugadi than just keeping our expectations realistic. The main ritual, or let me say, my favorite ritual on this festival is “Panchanga Shravana”. It literally means, “to listen to Panchanga”. One person, usually the man of the house, reads out the Panchanga to his family. Does that sound boring? I tell you, it’s not. Read on.

I take this opportunity to write all that we need to “listen” to as a part of “Panchanga Shravana”. To summarize, I can say, we discuss on where we are in this huge thing called time. So this is it:

Each year is called a Samvatsara. There are 60 Samvatsaras in all. Once all of the 60 Samvatsaras have been traversed, we start again from the first Samvatsara. Now we’re stepping into Durmukhi Samvatsara, the 30th year in the cycle. Yes, the Cycle. According to the Vedic culture, time is cyclic and not straight lines, as we all believe in the modern world.

The cycle of time is divided into 4 ages or Yugas – Krita or Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga and Kali Yuga. Each of the Yugas and their equivalent earth years are given below:

Krita Yuga = 17,28,000 years

Treta Yuga = 12,96,000 years

Dvapara Yuga = 8,64,000 years

Kali Yuga = 4,32,000 years

We are now in Kali Yuga and have already completed 5,117 years so far out of 4,32,000 years.

When a cycle is completed, that is, when the 4 Yugas have been traversed once, we say we have completed 1 MahaYuga.

71 such MahaYugas make one Manvantara. 14 Manvantaras make one Kalpa. One Kalpa, it is said, is one day for Chaturmukha Brahma, the creator of this universe! Mind blowing, eh?

Do you notice something? How significant are we in this HUGE time and space?! How significant are our troubles? Our ego? Less than a droplet of an ocean. This is why Ugadi is a time of contemplation. It is believed that taking part in Panchanga Shravana on Ugadi makes one wise, humble and stable in life.

There’s one interesting point I’d like to share here. If we calculate the number of earth years in 1 Kalpa, we get 4,29,40,80,000 earth years – which is approximately 4.2 billion years. And guess what, that’s the age of earth estimated by scientists who subscribe to the Big Bang Theory. Is this a coincidence?




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