Today is a holiday, also know as the Deccan or Telugu New Year (because the Telugu people come from the Deccan Plateau.) Ugadi literally means, “the beginning of a new age.” This holiday is celebrating differently in depending on the region. In Andhra Pradesh…people wake up early and use Sesame oil to massage their head and body, then wash their heads before visiting the temple to offer their prayers. The celebration also includes cleaning of house, decorating entrances with green mango leaves, and buying new clothes for family.
Bhavani, my Hindi professor, invited our class to her home for a small celebration! On the short bikeride to her house, the road was busy with locals. All the women were dressed in new sarees and kurtas as they walked to the temple bearing coconuts. Upon arriving at Bhavani’s each doorway was decorated with yellow and orange flowers along with mango leaves. Some even had rangoli in front of their doorstep. As is tradition, Bhavani’s home was spotless. On the kitchen counter sat a brand new clay pot in which to make Pachadi. This is a special drink made for Ugadi. The special mixture consists of:
- Neem Buds/Flowers for its bitterness, signifying Sadness
- Jaggery for sweetness, signifying Happiness
- Chili powder for its hot/spicy, signifying Anger
- Salt for saltiness, signifying Fear
- Tamarind juice for its sourness, signifying Disgust
- Unripened Mango (shredded) for its tang, signifying Surprise
- Also, coconut powder, a handful of chana daal, and fennel for added taste
Drinking this mixture symbolizes the fact that life is a mixture of different experiences, which should be accepted together at the New Year. The juice is served as is with added water. It is a very unique taste that I cannot even describe!
After Ugadi, the claypot is used throughout the year to keep water chilled!
People make delicious food on this for their friends and family. At Bhavani’s we shared some sweet and salty snacks, then went to Tagore for a proper lunch. We were served more Pachadi as well as fresh mango chutney, mango rice, assorted curries, and bobbatlu (or Polelu). This is a sweet roti that is stuffed with a paste made of jaggery and cardamom.