Ugadi, according to Hindu scriptures, is believed to be the day when Lord Brahma created the universe. In Mauritius, Ugadi is a major festival, also a public holiday, celebrated by the Telegu community. It marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Hindu calendar.
Weeks before, families shop for new clothes. It is customary for Telegu families to clean and wash their houses thoroughly. On this specific day, those celebrating rise before the sun, and take part in a ceremonial bath including bathing one’s head in coconut oil. As a ritual, they also eat the ‘Ugadi Pachadi’, a special preparation that combines all flavors – sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent, and piquant. In Telugu traditions, it is a symbolic reminder that one must expect different flavors of experiences in the coming new year (sadness, happiness, anger, fear, disgust, surprise) and make the most of them.
The entrance to their houses is decorated with Rangoli (Hindu art used for special occasions) drawings and mango leaves on doors. The whole family wear beautiful, new traditional clothes and visit temples of the locality for special prayers. For a new year starting on a good note, many Telegu devotees often pray for health and prosperity during this time. Large garlands of flowers are offered to Gods in homes and temples, and flowers also beautifully adorn the women’ s braids. Offerings are made to the Gods while Brahma Mantras are chanted with the Akshat (turmeric laced rice), jasmine flowers, and water in hand. This is the day where predictions are made for the new year.
Ugadi festivities continue with gatherings of the extended families sharing special dishes that are prepared for the occasion like sweetened rice known as kheer. In Mauritius, many attend cultural programs that take place all across the island while some people enjoy a day at leisure at the seaside with the whole family. Ugadi comes to remind us that we need to live in harmony and peace and to achieve this, we should not encourage bad habits nor bad practices. It is also the most auspicious time to start new ventures.