HYDERABAD: Elaborately decorated gift boxes filled with assorted local sweets, contrasting with ‘healthy substitutes’ of murkulus and spicy mixtures started arriving days before heralding the Telugu New Year — Ugadi. The air reverberates with Ugadi subhakankshalus. As the entire region of Telangana paints itself in the flowers of spring, family and friends usher in a New Year today.
We never need an excuse to pile on the calories, and luckily, for us Indians, there is always a festival following the last to indulge us. The season brings a new harvest of fruits and vegetables, and what better way to celebrate than with a lavish feast? The venerable vegetarian buffet of Ugadi pachadi, atukulu payasam, boorelu, bellam garelu, semiya payasam, rava pulihora, pappu pulusu, vankaya batani, is unique to the culinary culture of the Telugu people. The pachadi is a dish of six different flavours that range from sweet to bitter.
People in every State have a different NY depending on either the lunar or solar calendar they follow. Ugadi, celebrated by Telugus is the on-set of the season of freshness and brightness. As the flowers blossom and mango buds bloom, the celebration is marked by religious zeal and social merriment. This day is celebrated in four States, as Ugadi in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, Yugadi in Karnataka and as Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra.We talk to some young multi-cultural couples about how they integrate their traditions in celebrating this New Year.
Adity, an anchor and trainer, and Avinash, a team lead in an IT company, had a love marriage and have been married for over three years now. Adity is a Marwadi born in Ahmedabad, and Avinash is a Telugu from Hyderabad. “We had a Two States story full of drama and love, but today we stand together as a family,” laughs Adity. “The best part is that we get to enjoy both our cultures,” she says. “On Ugadi, we get up early, apply nuvulu oil, bathe, clean the house, decorate the doors with flowers, and deck the house with mugulu which I learned to draw after my marriage,” she says on how they celebrate the festival. She and her mother-in-law then cook payasam, garelu and Ugadi pachadi, “which we modify a little as I am not used to its taste yet,” says she. She is excited that she will get to wear a traditional pattu saree this year and the fact that the family will be celebrating at home due to the pandemic.
— Adity Nagori and Avinash Kumar Kankata
“This is the one festival we look forward to every year. It is even more special this year as Baisakhi falls on the same day,” says Swati, a Punjabi who is married to Jairaj, a Telugu. Both Hyderabadis have been married for seven years. Swati works in HR, while Jairaj is a professional photographer. “Ugadi has always been an occasion for us to dress up traditionally (pattu saree for me and kurta pyjama for Jairaj), which I was not used to before marriage,” comments Swati. “The most exciting part of this festival is the pachadi; we make it together and relish it,” says she, happily. She adds: “Just like last year, this year also we will not be visiting our relatives and friends due to Cvid-19, but will greet them through video calls and messages.” In the evening, they will be visiting Swati’s parents to celebrate Baishaki and indulge in Punjabi delicacies. “Perfect blend of two cultures this year,” she exclaims.
— Swati and Jairaj Vadapally
Kajal, a Maharashtrian from Chandrapur, Maharashtra, will be celebrating Ugadi with her husband Phaneeth, a Telugu from Hyderabad, and their six-month-old daughter Aarnaa. She says, “This is Aarnaa’s first Ugadi and we will be celebrating it with my in-laws.” Since the time they got married, Kajal has learned to make the multi-flavoured Ugadi Pachadi. Eager to learn new customs and celebrate local festivals which means a lot to her family, she adds, “Phaneeth is teaching me about the cultural significance and it is a great learning.” The ritual, however, that she is most looking forward to is to know the “forecast from the Panchangam for the New Year”. The prediction is based on one’s star sign and her in-laws follow this custom keenly. She says happily, “I am excited to dress up in traditional clothes and celebrate the New Year.” Phaneeth, her husband adds, “This is certainly a special Ugadi for us, given that it is the first New Year with our daughter.”
— Phaneeth Kumar and Kajal Randive
This is Pooja and Phalguna’s sixth Ugadi. Pooja is a Kannadiga and works with GVK BIO as senior marketing manager, while her husband, Phalguna, from Hyderabad, is a DJ and music producer. Largely, the Telugu and Kannadiga culture for such a celebration is more or less the same, says Pooja. “We make something like Ugadi Pachadi, but sans the liquid, with neem leaves, jaggery, pepper, tamarind, and other ingredients,” she says. They will welcome the New Year morning by decorating their home with thorana (mango leaves), special pujas and prasad offered to God and prepare lip-smacking food such as holige (bobbatlu), mango rice, etc. “We live with my in-laws at Kacheguda,” says Pooja adding, “With Covid-19’s second wave, we will continue spending time at home with family and meet our relatives virtually.”
— Pooja Prahlad, Phalguna Somraj