Mumbai, April 11 (IANS) As a string of harvest festivals began, Maharashtrains celebrated Gudi Padwa (New Year) with religious fervour and enthusiasm on Thursday.
Many families across Maharashtra welcomed the New Year with traditional prayers around the gudi (banner). 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.
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 with a swastika-marked pot and silk cloth is raised at prominent places in front of each house to mark the day.
Rallies, parades and shobha yatras were taken out by political parties and social organisations in Mumbai.
"I have 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 Padma Sawant, a resident of Dadar in central Mumbai.
Clay pots and garlands dotted the flower markets as people use flowers for the morning puja and also for decorations.
Mahadeo, a flower vendor in Dadar's flower market said: "We had ordered over 300 kg of flowers in the last two days and most of them were sold out by morning."
However, customers complained of soaring prices of marigold, rose, crossandra (aboli), chrysanthemum (shevanti) and jasmine.
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.