Mumbai: As a string of harvest festivals began in Maharashtra Friday, the weekend came a day earlier with people across the state celebrating Gudi Padwa (New Year`s day) with enthusiasm.
Celebrated on the first day of the Hindu month of Chaitra, people clean their houses and decorate the entrance with intricate rangoli designs, mango leaves and marigold flowers on Gudi Padwa. A gudi (banner) with a swastika-marked pot and silk cloth at prominent places in front of each house is also raised to mark the day.
Several families across Maharashtra brought in the new year with traditional prayers around the gudi. As a part of the tradition, most families ate a paste of neem leaves prepared with jaggery and tamarind, believed to purify blood and strengthen the body`s immune system. People dressed in their finest traditional clothes and women were seen draped in special nine yards sarees.
For adjoining Thane city, around 500 students from various schools brought out a cycle rally carrying banners with messages to conserve energy.
Several rallies, parades and shobha yatras were taken out by political parties and social organisations in Mumbai. A few bike rallies also attracted attention in several areas of city including Dadar, Vile Parle and Andheri.
"My mother has cooked a sumptuous meal to bring in the new year. Our entire family will spend the day together. We have also arranged a special pooja for the day and hope that the new year celebrations never end," said Vidya Badhe, a resident of Andheri in northwest Mumbai.
Small clay pots and garlands dotted the flower markets of the state as people use flowers for the morning puja and also to decorate their homes, shops and offices.
Mehboob Ali, a flower vendor in suburban Vile Parle market said: "We had ordered around 250 kgs of flowers in the last two days and most of them were sold by this morning."
Governor of Maharashtra K. Sankaranarayanan also greeted people on the occasion. "Gudhi Padwa marks the beginning of the New Year and the advent of spring. This day is also celebrated as Yugadi, Ugadi, Samvatsar Padvo, Chaitra Sukhladi and Cheti Chand in different parts of the country. May this auspicious day and the new year bring joy and happiness to all our people. I convey my warm festival greetings to the people on this occasion," he said in a message.
The day also marks the beginning of Chaitra Gauri and Ram Navaratri. Chaitra Gauri is an important event for women who invite each other for haldi kumkum (applying vermilion and turmeric to the forehead).