The Hindu traditional way of celebrating ‘Varsha Pratipada’…
‘The New Year’
Recently Varsha Pratipada; The New Year’s day according to the Hindu calendar, was celebrated by traditional Hindus all over the world including USA, Canada and UK . It was the first day of Chaitra Shukla, the first month of the Hindu lunar year which happened to be on March 31, 2014.
Whereas the New Year’s Day of Christian era (January 1st) is celebrated with eating and dancing joyfully in parties and exchanging fancy gifts, the traditional Hindu way of celebrating their New Year’s Day is quite different.
Traditionally, the tender leaves of Neem (lime tree) mixed with Jaggery ** (Gurh) are distributed as Prasaadam (gift) on this occasion.
It has a great symbolic meaning.
First, the neem-jaggery blend is offered to Ishwar (God) as Naivedya.
Then it is distributed among the family and friends as Prasaad.
This is one of the highest philosophical attitudes taught by the ancient Hindu spiritual masters.
The Neem, extremely bitter in taste, and jaggery sweet and delicious, signify the two conflicting aspects of human life —Joy and sorrow, success and failure, ecstasy and agony.
It is a reminder that the life is not always ‘Bitter’ or ‘Sweet’ all the time. It is a combination of the two and so might be the coming New Year.
By first offering this bitter-sweet blend to God and then accepting it as Prasaad, has a symbolic meaning; of preparing ourselves to face, and by the grace of God, accept whatever may happen in the future.
By exchanging the gift of this ‘bitter-sweet blend’ with friends and loved ones, we acknowledge that the relationships may also have some sweet and bitter moments that by God’s grace, can be accepted as part of life and solved mutually.
We usually tend to disregard the old traditions as ‘out of date’ or even non-sense, but if we try to understand them, we will find that many traditions have some deep and meaningful hidden messages.
May God bless us all.
** jaggery ….. Chunks of raw sugar made from sugarcane.