Ugadi: Of New Beginnings and the Flavors of Life

Ugadi PachadiIt’s that time of the year again when the old gives way to the new and nature is basking in the colors of spring, a rejuvenation from the tumultuous year we’ve had. And with it comes time for one of India’s most popular festivals, Ugadi aka Yugadi.  Celebrated with great enthusiasm in the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra, it marks the beginning of the new year in the Hindu Lunar calendar.  Legend has it that it was on this day that the Hindu God Lord Brahma created the universe eons ago, also marking the beginning of ‘Kalayuga’—the modern age.

Ugadi or Yugadi, derived from the Sanskrit words yuga (meaning age) and ādi (meaning beginning), is commemorated on the first day after the new moon during the Hindu month of “Chaitra”.  It typically falls during the month of March or April and is considered to be one of the most auspicious days of the Hindu calendar. It’s a joyous occasion, and families get ready with a round of spring cleaning.  On the day of Ugadi, mango leaves adorn the doors of most homes, floors are decorated with colorful kolams aka rangoli, special services are performed to invoke the blessings of God and the new calendar or “Panchangam” is customarily read out in temples, all to ring in the beginning of a new year.

Ugadi Pachadi: a reflection of the flavors of life

ugadiOf course, the celebration of any Indian festival is incomplete without the celebratory food. Apart from a wide variety of delectable sweet and savory dishes, one must have dish to mark this day is Ugadi Pachadi. The dish incorporates the six tastes as described in Ayurveda—sweet, bitter, sour, spicy, salty and astringent tastes.  The dish makes use of seasonal ingredients like raw mango and neem leaves which blossom in the beginning of spring to create this thick sauce-like dish.

ugadi need leaves and flowersEach of the six tastes represents an emotion or aspect of our lives. While the sweetness and bitterness represent joy and sadness respectively, sourness is associated with unpleasantness, spice with anger, saltiness with fear and astringency with surprise.  In the dish, the sweet is derived from jaggery, bitterness from neem flowers, sourness from tamarind, spice from pepper, astringency from raw mango and everything comes together with the salt.

The preparation and consumption of this dish is significant because of its sheer symbolism,  highlighting the fact that life has several flavors and that joy and sadness are really just two sides of the same coin.  It is a stoic reminder that we need to face life with poise and take a balanced approach towards both pleasure and pain.

Ugadi Pachadi Recipe

Ingredients

 

  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup thickly extracted tamarind paste/extract
  • 3 tbsp powdered jaggery
  • 1/3 cup raw mango finely chopped with skin
  • 1 tbsp neem flowers
  • 2 tsp pepper powder (or red chili powder)
  • Salt to taste

Method

  • Take a bowl, add the water, tamarind paste and jaggery and mix thoroughly.
  • Add the mango pieces, neem flowers, pepper or chili powder, salt and mix well.
  • It is key to note that the dish has no set proportions and you can adjust the quantity of the ingredients as per your taste and preference of the flavors.

 Check out Mango May-Nia for some delectable mango dishes.