One of the defining cultural facets while staying in the vibrant city of Hyderabad was witnessing her celebrate Ugadi. Being a non-native Hyderabadi, Ugadi was something I had only known as the “Telugu New Year”. But like many other regional new years in India (Read this post if you want to know more), Ugadi is unique and very popular in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Ugadi is derived from the Sanskrit words “Yug” and “Adi”, meaning the beginning of the year. However, being a person who relates to a festival with food, I was fascinated with “Ugadi Pachadi”
Hello Ugadi Pachadi: an unknown liquid!
On my first Ugadi (a stat holiday!!), my otherwise unfriendly landlady came up with a bronze plate and knocked at our door. If you have been in Hyderabad, you probably know that temperatures rise pretty quickly from the month of March. The shiny bronze plate contained some boiled black peas, some coconut sweet, and a tiny copper glass filled with a liquid.
Reader, you must know here that my landlady was a woman of few words, and did not understand any language other than Telugu. The few words she had mastered in English are “rent”, “No water”, “no boys” .. and you get the gist…
I must acknowledge I was not a sucker for different cultures either. None the less, I with much skepticism, I tasted the “Pachadi”. And my mouth blasted with flavors. In a second I felt a tangy, sweet, spicy feeling and ever since I have been a huge fan of Ugadi Pachadi.
The Philosophy of Life or Prediction of future?
Like all our traditional food, Ugadi Pachidi has its distinct recipe in every home. However broadly it consists of “shadaruchulu” or six tastes:
Sweet, sour, spicy, tangy, salty, and bitter. Traditionally it is made with Jaggery (sweet), Tamarind (sour), Chilli (spicy), Raw Mango (tangy), Salt, and Neem Leaves (bitter). As the saying goes these tastes represent different emotions in one’s life. Mixing all these emotions into a drink represents accepting life with all its forms. Like the Pachadi, our life is a spicy tangy mixture of different emotions and we must embrace it as it comes. What a meaningful way to begin a new year!
Some popular thoughts also say the prevalent taste predicts the coming year. 🙂
Each year I requested my local native friends to bring Ugadi Pachidi for me. I wasn’t aware of life’s deep meaning then, but I just enjoyed the tangy bittersweet taste of the celebratory fluid!
Blank Slate Chronicles wishes all its readers a very Happy Ugadi!
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