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25 Mar

Gudi Padwa: Then and Now

While we still find joy in hoisting the gudi and tucking into traditional treats, one can’t deny the fact that Gudi Padwa celebrations have evolved considerably. Here’s a look at the festival from the perspective of two different generations

“The size of the gudi and the rangoli has decreased”

For 22-year-old actor and choreographer Apurva Paranjape, Gudi Padwa entails waking up early, bathing, and raising the gudi—a duty she has been duly assigned as she is the tallest member of the family. However, for her mother, Dr Smita Paranjape, a 49-year-old professor, Gudi Padwa was all about making splendid rangolis all over the house and celebrating the occasion with family. Smita says, “Because of the shortage of space, the size of both, the gudi as well as the rangoli has decreased. In fact, there are smaller, more modern iterations of the gudi such as the electric gudi which can be placed on a table.”

 

“Everything was prepared at home”

The first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of festivities is food. Smita shares, “My mom used to prepare traditional dishes like puran poli and shrikhand which was the highlight of the day. As tribute, we offered a platter filled with dal, rice, roti, vegetables and some kind of sweet. It was only after doing this that we sat down to eat.” Talking about her favourite sweetmeat, Smita shares, “My mom used to make pakatlya purya, which is a gulab jamun-like dish wherein the puri is soaked in a sugar syrup or chashni. I used to love it even more because my mother would only make it twice a year.” While the novelty of some conventional sweets remains intact, Smita notes how people have grown accustomed to modern interpretations of old classics. She says, “I have found that people are departing from the traditional Maharashtrian sweets and choosing treats like rasgulla instead. In fact, some families even host a cake-cutting ceremony to ring in the New Year.” Not just that, Apurva remarks how fewer things are made at home now, “Earlier, my mother, grandmother and I prepared all the complex dishes and prasad at home; now, we just go out and buy most of it.”

“Excitement and energy went into preparing for the festival”

From raising the gudi to making rangolis and wearing new clothes, Padwa is marked by various customs and rituals. Traditionally, one is required to take an oil bath first thing in the morning and wear new clothes. “As a child, I witnessed the excitement and energy that went into preparing for the festival. But now, I am the one who buys the garlands, sweets etc.,” Apurva quips. However, Smita delights in the splendour of the festivities in the city, she says, “It was after I got married and shifted to Mumbai that I witnessed the grandeur of the celebrations here. The festival is celebrated in Thane on a large scale. And the whole community comes together—not simply family and friends.” Recounting her favourite memory of Padwa, Apurva shares, “My best childhood memory of the festival is standing at my uncle’s house at Panchpakhadi in Thane and watching the Gudi Padwa ‘Shobha Yatra’.”

 

“We celebrated the occasion with a lot of pomp”

Festivals in India have always offered an excellent opportunity for families and friends to come together. “When I was a child, we lived in the interiors of Maharashtra and celebrated the occasion with a lot of pomp. Our relatives and friends would visit each other’s houses and wish each other a happy new year,” shares Smita. Lately, the increasing distances and the desire to stay at home on holidays has dampened the spirit of this much-awaited festival. Says Apurva, “I have noticed that people don’t prioritise family time that much anymore. They visit for a while and then hurriedly return home to their phones and laptops.” Nonetheless, Smita feels that all is not lost as families will have ample time to spend with each other this year.

Elaborating on her plans for the day, Smita shares, “We cannot do much this year due to the COVID-19 virus. But we will still hoist the gudi, prepare delicious food at home, and offer prasad to the deities.” Even though the celebrations have truncated over time, the spirit remains as strong as ever.

Photos: Getty Images

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Alinda Gupta
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