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Monday, March 31, 2014

Harvest the wonders of Neem this Gudi Padwa (New Year)

Gudi Padva (Marathi: गुढी पाडवा Guḍī Pāḍavā), is the Marathi name for Chaitra Shukla Pratipada.It is celebrated on the first day of the Chaitra month to mark the beginning of the New year according to the  Hindu calendar.The word पाडवा(pāḍavā) or पाडवो(pāḍavo) comes from the sanskrit word पड्ड्वा/पाड्ड्वो(pāḍḍavā/pāḍḍavo), which stands for the first day of the bright phase of the moon called प्रतिपदा (pratipadā) in Sanskrit.
This practice of different customs and rituals around the world though looks something completely unrelated but still has a lot of scientific base to it. Let’s look deeply in some of these traditions to find the real answers.

Time for Celebration
The day is celebrated with an auspicious early morning bath, followed by decorating the doorway with a ‘Mangal Toran’, performing ritualistic worship and hoisting the Gudi the flag symbolizing victory.  Followed by pooja of god and Panchanga Shravana. Front space of houses is decorated with Rangoli and everyone wears new clothes and celebrates the festival by wishing each other with New Year greetings.

A Guḍi (flag)is also hoisted on this occasion giving this festival its name. The raising of the Gudi , Hoisted atop a window well before sunrise, the 'gudi' is much reason to bring family members together. The occasion also heralds the beginning of spring.  A brightly colored silk cloth is first tied to a wooden pole with a brass or silver goblet or kalash is placed upturned atop it. Then garlands of sweet sugary battasa, neem leaves and orange -yellow marigold flowers are tied to the pole. This is called the "Gudi". The "Gudi" or decorated pole is placed where it can be seen by passersby.

Traditionally, families are supposed to begin the festivities by eating the bittersweet leaves of the neem tree. Sometimes, a paste of neem leaves is prepared and mixed with dhane(coriander), gul/gur(jaggery), and tamarind. All the members of the family consume this paste, which is believed to purify the blood and strengthen the body’s immune system against diseases.

A feast of 'shrikhand' and 'puri' , pooran –poli mark the gastronomical delights of Gudi Padwa.Konkanis make Kanangachi Kheer, a variety of Kheer made of sweet potato, coconut milk, jaggery, rice flour, etc. and Sanna.

Worship to the "Gudi" is supposed to drive away evil from the house and are expected to usher in prosperity and good fortune.Finally, the 'gudi' is taken off before the sunset.This auspicious day also marks the beginning of the consumption of summer foods like melons, jack-fruit, mangoes , sprouted gram and more. A variety of sherbets such as Mango Panha(Raw mango drink) are served.

Auspicious day (Muhurt) Padwa
One of the three and a half auspicious days (Muhurts)
Gudhipadva, Akshay Trutiya and Dasra (Vijayadashmi) these are the
full day Muhurat and, the first day of the Hindu lunar month of Kartik     (Balipratipada) comprises half of the total three and a half auspicious Muhuratas.Gudi Padva is considered one of the auspicious days in the year when people start new ventures. House-warming poojas are performed and people also may choose to buy gold, silver or property on this day.

Legends behind celebration…
On this day Lord Brahma created the Universe and the Satyayug(The Age of Truth and Justice)   begins, it marks the commencing of the Hindu New Year. Thus for Hindus, this day carries special significance.

Lord Vishnu is also said to have been incarnated as Matsya. The fish, on this day.
There are numerous legends associates with the flag hosting on this day as defeats of Shakas by Shalivahan and some people hoist it to commemorate the victory of Shivaji maharaj also.

Some also believe that Lord Shriram reached Ayodhya after winning Lanka on this day, his subjects hoisted flags in every house symbolizing victory and joy. It is believed that this festival is celebrated to commemorate the coronation of Rama post his return to Ayodhya after completing 14 years of exile.

Importance of  this day
Astronomical
This new moon day has special meaning from Astronomy point of view. The Sun is supposed to be in first point of Aries, which is first sign of zodiac and is a natural beginning of spring. It has evolved into of many festivals Holi, Gudi Padwa around this part of year in India .It is one of the most famous harvesting festival in India.
Chronological
Being the first day of the first month of a year, Gudi Padwa is the New Year's Day as per Hindu calendar.
Agricultural
India is a predominantly agrarian society. Thus celebrations and festivals are often linked to the turn of the season and to the sowing and reaping of crops. This day marks the end of one agricultural harvest and the beginning of a new one. In this context, the Gudi Padwa is celebrated at the end of the Rabi season.
Historical
This day also commemorates the commencement of the Shalivahana calendar after he defeated sakas in battle.
Religious
According to the Brahma Purana, this is the day on which Brahma created the world after the deluge and time began to tick from this day forth.
Seasonal
On this day, the sun assumes a position above the point of intersection of the equator and the meridians. According to the Hindu calendar, this marks the commencement of the Vasanta ritu or the spring season
Known with different names in various states
Gudi Padwa (in Maharashtra),
Ugadi (in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh).
Nau Roz (Kashmir),
Baisakhi (Punjab),
Cheti Chand (Sindhi)
Naba Barsha (Bengal)
Goru Bihu (Assam)
Puthandu (Tamil Nadu)
Vishu (Kerala)
Konkani Hindus variously refer to the day as संसार पाडवो or संसर पाड्यॆ (saṁsāra 'pāḍavo/ saṁsāra pāḍye),संसार (saṁsāra) being a corruption of the word संवत्सर (saṁvatsara).

Change in climate
To understand this specific ritual, we would try to take a small peek at the atmosphere and the seasonal changes during that time and how would those changes affect us in general. This is the beginning of the spring.Winter has been a great time with lot of coolness in the  air, suddenly as spring arrives the atmosphere starts  getting warmer slowly and slowly .
The sun’s rays increase in intensity, going from mellow to hot. The body up till now was full of energy and with lot of appetite suddenly due to this change of season we could see the appetite suddenly being reduced. Many people who have low immunity suffering with cold, cough, fever. People with history of Asthma would suddenly have bouts of those attacks during this time. Yes one day was cooler,lot nicer and suddenly it has changed.                                                                    

Ayurvedic Significance
According to the ancient system of medicine Ayurveda this is the time of the year when the Kapha accumulated in the body starts to get out from the body due to the heat of the sun and starts to create issues in the body. Remember during those nice winter days we used to eat a lot, Diwali , Christmas , lot of sweets , fresh fruits what happen to them . Yes this sweets and lots of nice fruits and the  cool season  has made a huge amount of Kapha to be stored in the body Even in an healthy person you could  find some this changes seen too.

To fight this changes here comes the custom of eating this bitter Neem . Gudi Padwa being the first day for the sun to start heating itself in the earth’s Atmosphere would be the right time to have this Neem in our body.

Neem by itself is known all over the world for its Blood purifying action, immune builder,But do you know this neem to be helpful to even for fighting this excess Kapha that has been starting to build up in our system .The jaggery though sweet has its own value for heating our internal system thus helping the action  of this neem to work in removing the excess Kapha .And yes who does not want an immune builder during such times when season changes ,were the immunity by itself has been on a low tract.

This month heralds the onset of the spring – synonymous with ushering in of new life on earth.Spring is considered as the first season of the year indicating a new beginning. The trees shed old leaves paving way for the new one. Durning whole month of chaitra Ayurveda suggest to drink Neem Juice, obtained from neem leaves.As in this season Pitta dosha accumulate in body, and if it accumulates in more quantity it can cause blood/skin and other various diseases.

Health benefits of Neem
In India, the tree is variously known as "Sacred Tree," "Heal All," "Nature's Drugstore", "Village Pharmacy" and "Panacea for all diseases." Products made from neem tree have been used in India for over two millennia for their medicinal properties.

Everyone is aware of the immense health qualities neem has. It is a very famous herb of India and is known all over the world for its medicinal properties. It has been used in Ayurveda since a long time and has been mentioned in ancient texts for its exceptional beneficial nature.

It is commonly known as Margosa tree in English, while it’s biological name is Azadirachta indica.In India, this tree is revered and worshipped and can be found just about anywhere. It is an evergreen tree, which attains a height of around 40-50 feet. Every part of the neem tree, which includes bark, leaves, fruit, roots,branches flowers, etc is beneficial. Check out the health benefits of neem.

  • Neem has anti bacterial, anti parasitic, anti fungal, anti protozoa and anti viral properties, which means it provides protection from almost all microorganisms.
  • Applying neem in the form of powder or oil on external cuts or wounds has exceptional results. It fights off all kinds of germs and enables in the easy recovery of the affected area.
  • It is very common to take bath in water that has neem leaves added to it. It has medicinal properties and gets rid of all the germs that may be thriving on our bodies.
  • Neem powder or oil is very effective in relieving us of skin ailments such as eczema, acne, skin allergy, rashes, itch, ringworms, etc.
  • Neem water is very effective when used to treat injuries caused due to burns. It heals up skin fast and prevents the creation of any kind of an allergy or infection.
  • Neem oil, when used as a substitute for hair oil, provides amazing results. It prevents hair from graying and also effective in treating dandruff, lice and hair fall.
  • Neem oil can be used to massage muscle aches and joints and can be used to relieve pain from conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, gout, Osteoarthritis, lower back pain, etc.
  • Ingesting neem is beneficial in many ways as it helps to restore the taste of mouth, cures constipation and relieves of indigestion. It also eliminated the problem of acidity.
  • Eating neem will help get rid of intestinal worms, thus performing its role as a de-worming agent and will help restore healthy functioning of the intestines.
  • Taking neem internally is said to effectively improve the quality of blood and purifies it. It helps getting rid of toxins that may be present in the blood and keeps the body disease-free.
  • Neem is said to be a very effective medicine for people suffering from diabetes and helps to control blood sugar levels to a great extent.
  • Neem has been found in extensive scientific research to be a safe and very effective birth control that may be used by either men or women.
  • Neem has the ability to make the immune system of a body very strong and get rid of any foreign disease that may weaken the body.
  • Neem oil is used for preparing cosmetics (soap,  shampoo, creams etc.), and is useful for skin care such as acne treatment, and keeping skin elasticity. Neem oil has been found to be an effective mosquito repellent.
  • Neem twigs (‘datun’) are commonly used for brushing teeth in the morning in rural India. Neem twigs and leaves have been used for thousands of years by millions of people in India to brush their teeth and cleanse their gums to promote oral hygiene.
  • Neem leaf paste is applied to the skin to treat acne, and in a similar vein is used for measles and chicken pox sufferers.
  • There are numerous  diseases in which neem can be used effectively some of them are as follows Diabetes, Arthritis, Rheumatism, Cancer,Heart Diseases, hemorrhoids,Nervous Disorders, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, chlamydia, genital herpes, genital/vaginal warts, candidiasis, and urinary tract infections etc.

Note
Neem is believed to cure many more diseases according to Ayurveda. However one should adopt a word of caution.Do not consume these if you are pregnant or trying to conceive. It is advisable to consult an Ayurvedic doctor while taking more concentrated Neem leaves extracts or Neem oil as medicine.

Other uses
The oil is also used in making Neem based soaps, shampoos and toothpaste.Apart from the direct health benefits, Neem is very special in terms of ecological benefits. It has even been noticed that mosquitoes exposed to the volatiles of crushed Neem seeds and Neem oil, stop laying eggs!
Neem seed cake, the left over part of Neem seed, is used to enrich the soil. In short, Neem is nature’s systemic purifier. Neem leaves are used as pest control agents in many places, providing a natural alternative to synthetic pesticides. Neem also has higher capability for CO2 absorption because of its large leaf area.

Conclusion
The most interesting part is it’s very easy to grow a neem tree even in your garden without knowing which type of soil your garden has, has it been watered or not.Neem requires really less amount of water for survival.It's often advised to plant a neem tree in one's garden, as it a very good disinfectant and drives away pests.

Neem has a history of continuous, safe and effective use among the general population of India for over 5000 years. Neem stands true to its Sanskrit name Arishta which means "reliever of sickness".
I wish all the readers"Happy Gudi Padwa",Please do not forget to eat those nice little bitter neem leaves.

Happy New Year!



9 comments:

Bruce Wayne said...

Ayurvedic products are very essential and useful in maintaining overall health of a person and some of the herbal products which are available provide great nourishment for our skin such as herbal oils.

Vaishali Kamat said...

Thanks...

Anonymous said...

Nice sms and greeting on gudi padwa, thanks for sharing this on internet and I wish you happy gudi padwa
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Dr.Vaishali Gautam Kamat said...

Thanks...

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Dr.Vaishali Gautam Kamat said...

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