What comes to your mind when you think about new year celebrations? Partying with friends? Dancing the night away? Fireworks? Bringing in the new year with your loved ones? Well, how about women bikers dressed in traditional sarees, sporting Aviator sunglasses, and wearing vibrant turbans? Yes, that’s what happens during the Shobha Yatra, every Gudi Padwa (Maharashtrian New Year).
The Shobha Yatra is a massive procession that takes place in culturally active areas such as Thane, Dombivali, Girgaum, Vile Parle, etc. Men play the dhol, women perform the lezim dance and children participate in the merriment by wearing traditional attire. Over the years, the dhol tasha performance and the biker rally have caught everyone’s attention and have become a major part of the festival. It is nothing short of a carnival on Mumbai’s streets!
The all-women bike rally is a cultural phenomenon. Women wear colorful nauvari (nine yard) sarees, nose rings, gold jewelry, and different types of head gears such as Tilak Pagdi, Pheta, Jire Top, etc. The sunglasses add a modern touch to their traditional look. They ride cruiser bikes and scooters, some also have children as a pillion rider.
Raising the Gudi
A Gudi or Gudhi is raised in Maharashtrian households to celebrate the festival. The Gudi comprises of a silk cloth with Zari brocade, neem and mango leaves, garland of flowers, and a bamboo stick. This is capped with a kalash (pot) and followed by a puja. It resembles a flag and is associated with bringing prosperity and warding off evil. In cities, a Gudi is usually placed near a window. In some villages, people come together and hoist a community Gudi as well.
Padva is derived from the Sanskrit word Pratipad, meaning first day of each fortnight in a lunar month. Gudi Padva marks the beginning of Chaitra month as per Hindu calendar and is also known as a harvest festival. As per the Gregorian calendar, Gudi Padva usually falls between March and April. In 2019, Gudi Padwa is on Saturday, 6th April.
Apart from raising the Gudi, Maharashtrian families celebrate their new year by cleaning their house, drawing rangoli, preparing mouth-watering delicacies such as shrikhand poori, puran poli, etc. People in certain south Indian states celebrate this day as Ugadi/Yugadi.
Gudi Padwa is considered as an auspicious day and marks several new beginnings. For example, business ventures are inaugurated on this day. Several car and bike dealers come up with various offers and discounts to attract buyers. This might be a good time to purchase that bike or car you’ve been thinking about. If you do so, don’t forget to purchase a two wheeler insurance policy as it is a legal requirement.
Checkout local newspapers or perform a quick internet search to know more about Shobha Yatras in your locality and try catching one this year. Happy Gudi Padwa!
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