Harvest festival adds to World Cup joy in Maharashtra

April 4th, 2011 - 3:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, April 4 (IANS) Celebrations for the World Cup victory blended with gaiety over the harvest festival of Gudi Padwa, which marked the Maharashtrian New Year and was observed across the state Monday.

Celebrated on the first day of the Hindu month of Chaitra, people clean their houses and decorate the entrance with intricate rangoli designs, mango leaves and marigold flowers on Gudi Padwa.

A ‘gudi’ or banner with a swastika-marked pot and silk cloth, in front of each house, is also raised to mark the day. People dressed in their finest traditional clothes and women were seen draped in special nine yard saris.

“The World Cup victory has made our new year all the more special. In the morning puja conducted at our place, I prayed that the celebrations never end,” said Jagruti Sawant, a resident of suburban Kandivli.

Several families across Maharashtra brought in the new year with traditional prayers around the gudi. As part of the tradition, most families ate a paste of neem leaves prepared with jaggery and tamarind, believed to purify blood and strengthen the body’s immune system.

Several processions were taken out through out the state displaying Marathi culture and tradition. A few bike rallies and shobha yatras were also taken out in several areas of Mumbai, including Dadar, Vile Parle and Andheri.

Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan also greeted people on the occasion. “Gudi Padwa marks the beginning of the new year and the advent of spring. The day has special significance in the life of the people of Maharashtra, especially farmers. I extend my warm greetings and good wishes to people on this auspicious occasion,” he said in a message.

Small clay pots and garlands dotted the flower markets of the state as people use flowers for the morning puja and also to decorate their homes, shops and offices.

Mehboob Ali, a flower vendor in suburban Vile Parle market, said, “We had ordered around 250 kg of flowers in the last two days and most of it as sold by morning.”

A special programme was organised by a club in the Dombivli township of Thane district where several aeroplane models were flown to bring in the new year and also to congratulate Team India on their World Cup victory.

A huge replica of the World Cup was put up in Mumbai’s neighbouring city Thane by the local unit of the Nationalist Congress Party to add a touch of cricket victory in the new year celebrations.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) also hoisted a 51-feet gudi in suburban Malad.

The day also marks the beginning of Chaitra Gauri and Ram Navaratri. Chaitra Gauri is an important event for women who invite each for ‘haldi-kumkum’.

The festivities have only added to the joyous celebrations for the World Cup, which India won against Sri Lanka in Mumbai Saturday.

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