Yugaadi is the first day of a year by lunar
calendar and celebrated as a festival in most parts of
India. Among Gowda Saraswath Brahmin (GSB)
families the day is known as Samvatsar Padvo (first
day of a year). It is known as Gudi Padva in
Maharashtra state and Yuga
adi in Karnataka, Kerala,
Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. As the common
calendar in India has January 1 of each year as the first
day of the year, the lunar calendar does not tally with
the common new year day for most of us.
                     Therefore the practical value of this new
year day of the lunar calendar remains only as a
festival. However, out of tradition we GSBs prepare
special dishes on this day and some of us visit temples
to hear the priests narrate the predictions based on the
configuration and positions of the heavenly stars and
planets during the year. It is also the day for some
families to bring in the new harvest and cook rice from
the newly harvested paddy. This tradition has been
prevalent for over a millennium or more in India.
                     What is a festival? Festivals are
celebrations held in memory of a historic event every
year, or a commemoration of a mythological character.
A festival is held to celebrate completion of a harvest,
or celebration of the anniversary of inauguration of
community halls, temples, etc., or anniversary of birth
or death of great personalities belonging to the
community.
                     Festivals bring joy to practically every
one in the society.  Many of the
festivals and
functions are necessary for the healthy
development of the person, whether the festival is
scientifically meaningful or not.
 Usually it is a task
for a person to fulfill the rituals of a festival or a function
and the occasion tries his patience and abilities in
performance. The man in the family has to provide the
supplies and other members have a role to play in
implementing the various processes.  The task is a trial
for all who take part in the festival.  It is a totally
independent matter, however, and how one celebrates
the festival in his confines of the home is a personal
matter.  There are no compulsions except the deity or
the sacred structures meant for the festival are given
proper respect in handling the different programs laid
down in the rules of the ritual.  A certain menu for the
feast is recommended under the tradition and a list of
decorations for the festival is carried out but there is
ample leeway available so that no one is put to
hardship.  We usually repeat what our parents and
other elders did in the past festivals.  It is a small
challenge to do at least as good or better than our
parents.  We can also polish the procedures to fit in the
modern times and innovate the look and shape of the
event.
                     
Samvatsar Padvo, Gudi Padva or Yugaadi
By Mohan Shenoy
Adyar Gopal Parivar
Samsar Padvo
Also known as Samvatsara Padya
and Yuga
adi
A Hindu Religious Festival
By Mohan Shenoy
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Yugaadi
Tuesday the 16th March 2010
By Mohan Shenoy
The New Year of Vikriti Samvatsara begins on the 16th
of March 2010. Tuesday the 16th March 2010 is the
Hindu New Year. This Vikriti Samvatsara lasts from the
16th March 2010 to 3rd April 2011.
                   
   This New Year Day every year is known as the
festival of Yugadi (often spelt as Ugadi). In the Indian
government calendar in which the years are counted
from the famous kings Vikramaditya and Shalivaahana,
the year is named Vikriti just as in the lunar Hindu
calendar, but the new year Shalivaahana Shaka 1932
starts on 22nd March 2010. This calendar is know as
the National Calendar of India. The other Year-systems
practiced in India are Kollam Year 1185-86, Hijari year
1431-32, Vikrama Shaka year 206-2067, Phasali (or
Fasali) year 2536-2537. In the Kali Yuga the running
year is 5112nd year.
          
   Yugadi is also known as Samvatsara Padvo and
Gudi Padvo. It is the first day of a year by lunar
calendar and celebrated as a festival in most parts of
India. Among Gowda Saraswath Brahmin (GSB)
families the day is known as Samsarpadvo
(Samvatsara Padvo).

   It is known as Gudi Padvo in Maharashtra state and
Yugadi in Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and
Tamil Nadu The common New Year day in the
common calendar all over the world is January 1 of
each year. Hindu festivals are not based on the
common calendar and the festival of Yuga
adi does not
correspond with the New Year day. Lunar calendar, on
which the Hindu festivals are based, does not tally with
the common calendar. Therefore the practical value of
Yugadi festival being celebrated as the first day of the
lunar calendar remains only in observing this day as a
festival. However, out of tradition Hindus prepare
special dishes on this day and some of us visit temples
to hear the priests narrate the predictions for the
coming year. The predictions are based on the
configuration and positions of the heavenly stars and
planets during the year, the Panchaanga book for
which is read and released on this day. It is also the
day for some families to bring in the new harvest and
cook rice from the newly harvested paddy. This
tradition has been prevalent for over a few millennia or
more in India.

   Among Hindus in India, rice has been an important
part of their meals, especially in the southern part of
India. Rice is also used in many different ceremonies
as an accompaniment to an offering and it is required
for sprinkling on the heads of those who attend the
function; rice sprinkled on the heads is called Akshatha.

   Since about the year 1950 there have been many
discoveries in the field of cultivation of rice. Varieties of
rice have been named that yield a better crop. For
cultivation of rice, water is required in large quantities.

   Rice plants are like grass with about 5 large
elongated narrow oval leaves that have stems, which
produce flowers. The flowers turn into paddy, after
pollination. The plants produce one crop, then dry up
and die. Bunches of plants with the seeds are thrashed
on net-stands to separate the seeds from the plants.
The dried plants are excellent fodder for the cattle.
This fodder is stored in the form of silos for use
throughout the rest of the year. The seeds have an
outer husk and an inner hull. The hull is thin and brown
and has nutrients in it like vitamin B1. When the rice is
milled this inner cover is lost and the rice turns white.
On the other hand if the paddy is first soaked in boiling
water in a pot for a while and then the outer husk is
removed by milling, a portion of the inner cover
remains attached to the rice.  The boiled rice takes
longer to cook but it is more nutritious than the white
rice.

   On Yugadi festival day, two dishes are traditionally
cooked; one is Cheppe Kheer (made of newly
harvested rice grains) and the other is Madganay
(made of Bengal gram and jaggery). The ingredients
for Cheppe Kheer are rice, coconut shreds, and haldi
(turmeric) leaves. Other items in the menu are
Tendlen-Bibbo Upkari, Ambata curry, Poudi fritters,
Rice and Udad Dal Kotte. Tendlen is a kind of
vegetable known as Thonde in Kannada. Bibbo is raw
shelled cashew nut. Upkari is the name of the dish.
Ambata is a thick soup like curry made out of ground
fresh shredded coconut cooked with many kinds of
vegetables. Poudi (Podi) are various kinds of sliced
vegetables dipped in a spicy batter of gram flour deep
fried in coconut oil. Kotte are steamed batter of rice
and urad dal in pockets made from jackfruit leaves.

   The coconuts are an important part of the diet of the
Gowda Saraswath Brahmins (GSBs). The GSBs also
use coconut oil for cooking. In the western countries
the GSBs have a high incidence of heart attack
because of coronary artery disease. The GSBs back in
India throughout history, were eating quite a lot of
coconuts and using quite an amount of coconut oil.
Some one said that there is a relation between the
coconuts and the cholesterol, the C-C relation. They
suggested that the use of coconuts and coconut oils
should be stopped to reduce the incidence of heart
attack among the GSBs in America. However, the
research done by Indian scientists at the University of
Kerala has revealed why the GSBs in India do not
have a higher incidence of heart attack than the
average population. The scientists, Padmakumaran,
Rajamohan and Kurup have discovered that the
coconut kernel contains a good protein that reduces
formation of fat in the liver and in the intestines. If the
coconut kernel is not consumed and only the coconut
oil is consumed then there is an adverse effect. There
will be increase in cholesterol level in blood. But if the
coconut kernel is also consumed then there is a
significant decrease in the total cholesterol level,
increase in the HDL and decrease in LDL; there is also
decrease in the level of Triglycerides according to the
Kerala scientists. Coconut kernel causes increase in
the cholesterol degradation in the liver to produce bile
acids. Esterification of cholesterol is decreased also.
Coconut kernel fed to rats reduced the serum levels of
cholesterol, phospholipids and triglycerides.
           
High levels of cholesterol, phospholipids and
triglycerides are not desirable in humans because it
leads to atherosclerosis and later to heart disease and
stroke. The coconut kernel is rich in fibres and
provides an ideal dietary constituent for man and
therefore GSBs who consume plenty of coconut
kernels are benefited. Those GSBs who live in the
coastal regions of south India use a lot of coconut in
their cooking. Coconut provides good health to these
people with its properties of reducing the cholesterol
level in blood and acting as roughage in the intestines.
The coconut-cholesterol (C-C) relation is good for all
people if they consume limited quantity of coconut oil
and plenty of coconut kernel.
  
  Cholesterol is formed in the liver from fats absorbed
from intestines. There is need for bile acids to be
formed from cholesterol to send them back to the
intestines to facilitate digestion of food substances.
This is done by the liver, which by degrading
cholesterol converts them into bile acids. Cholesterol
esters are also formed in the liver and travel to various
parts of the body.

  Nowadays, the cholesterol level in the serum is
estimated by a chemical reaction. Blood is collected
from a vein in the forearm. Serum is obtained after
allowing the blood to clot and separating the clot to
obtain what is left, i.e. serum. This serum is subjected
to enzyme reaction and development of a colour. The
intensity of the colour is measured. If the cholesterol
level is high then the colour is dark; if low, light. This is
the total cholesterol estimation. After total cholesterol,
we have to give attention to the two kinds of
cholesterol viz. the High Density cholesterol (heavy
cholesterol, HDL) and Low Density cholesterol (light
cholesterol, LDL). The HDL does not rush itself to form
plaques in the arteries while the LDL does. The
plaque formation is easy with LDL. More the LDL, the
quicker the plaque formation. Plaques harden the
arteries and thickens the wall of the arteries leading to
a block in the blood-flow. If the coronary arteries of the
heart get blocked the patient may die. Therefore it is
better to have enough HDL and low levels of LDL.

  The benefits of coconut kernel are always there
whether coconut oil is consumed at the same time or
not. But if the oil is consumed then it is likely that it
might increase the level of cholesterol unless coconut
kernel is also consumed along with the oil. There is
plenty of oil in the coconut kernel. Regular
consumption of Coconut kernel keeps the cholesterol
level down in all people including those people who
otherwise have raised levels of cholesterol.
The rise in cholesterol in the blood could be due to
intake of either coconut oil or any other fatty diet. In all
cases the coconut kernel reduces the cholesterol
levels to normal. Coconut kernel is best used as a
masala ingredient. When we use any masala powder
to make any side-dish, then we add the powder
directly to the dish either in the beginning or at the end
of the cooking. But if we grind the masala powder with
twice or thrice the quantity of coconut kernel, then the
mixture gives a thickness and consistency to the dish
that is indescribable. Add this mixture to the dish
instead of the masala alone. There is no need to add
wheat flour or corn flour to give body to the dish if
coconut is used. This is one of the ways to use
coconut kernel in our cooking.

  Coconut milk obtained by grinding the coconut
shreds and then straining it through a cloth contains
fibres but the milk is rich enough in kernel protein.

  Cheppe Kheer is prepared by boiling rice in water
and adding coconut milk to it and boiling again.
Coconut milk is prepared by grinding coconut shreds
in a mixie and squeezing out the milk from the product,
through a thin cloth. A couple of whole turmeric leaves
are added while boiling the mixture to give a pleasant
smell. Turmeric leaves have a pleasant smell and
flavour. The turmeric leaves are first washed and
cleaned and then rolled up before adding to the boiling
mixture and cooked for another two minutes. The
leaves are left in the Kheer until served. This dish is
tasty and delicious even though no sugar or salt is
added to it. The lip-smacking nature of this dish is due
to the flavours of coconut and the turmeric leaves.

  The ingredients for Madganay are Bengal gram
daal, jaggery, cashew kernels, fresh and raw, coconut
milk, cardamom powder, turmeric powder, rice and
ghee. Madganay is prepared by first boiling the Bengal
gram daal (splits) in a sufficient quantity of water until
soft (30 mts.). Prepare coconut milk as described
above. Add jaggery (quantity equal to Bengal Gram
daal) to the cooked Bengal gram daal and stir. Bring to
boil. Add coconut milk and stir. Bring to boil. Add a
pinch of turmeric powder and a tablespoonful of
washed rice to the mixture while boiling and stir a bit.

  The cashew kernels are processed first as follows:
place tender cashew kernels (about one tenth the
quantity of Bengal Gram daal) in water and bring to
boil. Allow to cool. Peel off the brown skin of the
kernels. Split the kernels in halves and add to the
daal-jaggery-coconut milk mixture. Stir well and bring
to boil. Powder a few seeds of cardamom and add the
powder to the mixture. Add one or two spoons of ghee.
Madganay is now ready to be served.

   On Yugadi festival people send gifts of various
eatables, such as jaggery, roasted sesame seeds,
roasted ground nuts, rocky sugar, sugar molds, etc., to
friends and relatives. These are items that are
available in plenty following the harvest. Small
quantities of these eatables are put in little plastic
bags and distributed, on a plate along with some neem
leaves. Neem leaves are very bitter. The bitter neem
leaves accompany the sweet jaggery because the
message to convey is that the life in the New Year is
going to be not always sweet, but there will be bitter
moments too.

The festival can be grand with involvement of relatives
and friends or it can be converted into a family-only
matter.  
                    Relatives and friends watch and observe
how well one does the festivals in the current year
compared to what one did in the previous years.  It is a
measure of one’s current abilities and enthusiasm.  It is
a measure of one’s prosperity and health to know how
well a particular festival is carried out in the current
year by the descendant.  If you have time and money
you may turn it into a large-scale extravaganza or if you
don’t, then you can moan and groan and give excuses
to downsize the whole thing.  It requires skills of
management and liberal religious or social attitude.
                    In any case how superficial or how deep
one participates in the festival is a mood- related
subject.  But it is a revelation of one’s position and
exposes him to the open.  Many consider that the
money spent on a festival is worth more than its value
but there are some who cling to excuses in order to
celebrate it in a subdued fashion.  They might save
money, time and toil.  They may not save their face
well, though.
       Take for example the Ganesha festival which falls
in the month of August or September every year. My
wife Lalitha and I celebrate the Ganesha festival by
participating in the grand programmes being held in our
GSB community hall in Bangalore.  Our Swamy
provides the community hall I am referring, head of
Parthagali Gokurn Mutt, Dwarakanath Bhavan located
in Basavanagudi area of Bangalore.  We take part in
the proceedings including receiving the prasada, which
is handed out liberally by the organizers.  There are
poojas from early morning onwards till late in the
evening.  There is a santharpana meal for thousands
of devotees and evening phalaharas (snacks)
accompanied by a variety entertainment programme
every day till the Idol is immersed on the next Sunday.  
We contribute money to the poojas and the money is
spent in conducting the festival.  We contribute to the
various funds such as the educational fund and health
fund, which are maintained by the GSB Society (a
registered society of the Mutt).
                    My father, late Adyar Gopal was Arya
Samaji and he discouraged idol worship.  I got some
exposure in the philosophy of Arya Samaj and this has
made me also a person not believing in idol worship.  
The matter of religion is difficult just like our skin, yes
skin.  One cannot remove the religious learning taken
shape in one’s early child-hood from one’s life.  One
can only superimpose the new knowledge and make a
hotchpotch picture, a modern artwork.  Thank you for
getting this read and I thank the reader.

Learn More About Hindu Calendar
Yugaadi
Monday the 4th April 2011
By Mohan Shenoy
The New Year of Kara Samvatsara begins on the 4th of
April 2011. Monday the 4th April 2010 is the Hindu New
Year.
Yugaadi
Monday the 23rd March 2012
By Mohan Shenoy
The New Year of Nandana Samvatsara begins on the
23rd of March 2012. Monday the 4th April 2010 is the
Hindu New Year.
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The New Year Day is 1st January by the Common Calendar. Yugaadi falls on different dates by the Indian (Hindu) Calendar.