Happy New Year to All

Friday, March 23 was the beginning of the New Year based on Indian lunisolar calendar. It is the celebration of Gudhi Padwa, the festival of celebration of the New Year. Mumbai was closed for business and open for celebration. 

      (pictorial representation of a Gudhi)             (picture of a Gudhi)                  (Rangoli painted inside a home)                   
                                                                  (source of pictures – Wikipedia)

Padwa is a word derived from the old Prakrut “Paddava” which itself comes from Sanskrut word “Pratipada” or first day. It is celebrated by erecting a Gudhi outside a home and with a colorful “rangoli” inside the home.

Guddhi Padwa has a philosophical and historical significance. It is the first day of the Chaitra month and  marks the beginning of the season to reap crops. It also marks the first day of Earth after the great flood that wiped out all humanity except the family of one man. In deed, the word “man” is said to have been derived from that sole survivor, Manu.

The great Indian epic, the Maha-Bharat, portrays the event of that great flood – Brahma the Creator selected Manu to be the sole survivor of the flood and the progenitor of humanity after the deluge. The story goes like this:

  • One day, Manu saved a small fish. The fish eventually grew to be a great fish with a huge horn on his head. This great fish came to Manu one day and told him about the great flood to come. The fish asked Manu to build a boat, get his family into the boat with seeds of every plant and a pair of every species of animal. The boat was built and ready. The torrential rains began. The great fish swam to Manu who tied the boat to the great fish’s horn. The great fish pulled the boat safely through the flood waters to the top of the Himalayan mountain, the only dry place left on earth.

Gudhi Padwa is the day the world began again after the great flood. Since all men are the progeny of Manu, the sole survivor, they are called Manav. Since Sanskrut is the oldest of all Indo-European languages, the words for man in European languages are said to be derived from Manav, or sons of Manu.

The tale of the great flood has also been told in ancient texts like the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh and the Christian Bible. Since the Ved, ancient Sanskrut texts, are widely accepted to be the oldest of human texts, their version is given greater weight. According to these texts, that great flood took place in the Himalayan range. After all, Indologists argue, no place on earth has as much snow, ice and rainfall as the Himalayan range and the tallest peaks on earth, the Himalaya, were probably the only dry places left after that global deluge.

The day of Gudhi Padwa is also celebrated as Nowruz or the beginning of the Persian New Year. This word and the celebration goes back to the Avestan period in Persia, known to many as the period of Zarathustra or Zoraster.  It is still celebrated in today’s Islamic Iran.

Happy New Year to all our readers.

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