Gudi Padva, or Gudhi Padwa, is the Hindu New Year in
Maharashtra, Goa and some parts of Karnataka. It is the first day of the Chaithra month in the Marathi Calendar. On this day, Maharashtrians hoist the Gudhi (victory flags). In 2014, Maharashtra New Year date is March 31.
Farmers make it a point to plough the field on the day. Food is distributed to neighbors, friends, relatives and farm laborers and other workers. Delicious sweets and other local Maharashtrian cuisines are prepared and distributed on Gudi Padva.
The day is also one of the most auspicious days in the Maharashtrian Hindu Calendar and is ideal for starting new ventures and investment. It is believed that every moment on this day is auspicious. The day also heralds the arrival of the spring season.
There are numerous legends associated with the flag hoisting on Gudi Padwa. The most among them are return of Lord Rama after defeating Ravan. Other legends include the defeat of Shakas by Shaliavahan and some people hoist it to commemorate the victories of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
The flag is hoisted on Gudhi or bamboo staff and the flag is made of green or yellow colored silk cloth. A bright garlanded goblet is hung on top of it. Neem leaves, mango leaves, garland of red flowers and gaohi (sweet) are hung on the gudhi. Rangolis are drawn near the gudhi or in front of the house.
Offering made out of Neem leaves and flowers and jaggery is distributed on the day. The offering consists of neem leaves and flowers, soaked dal, cumin seeds, honey or jaggery and asafetida. The offering symbolically indicates that life is filled with joy and sorrow.