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The festival of Ugadi marks the beginning of a new year for the people in the South-Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. This day is also celebrated in Maharashtra as ‘Gudipadva’. The word ‘Ugadi’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Yugadi’, which means ‘beginning of a new Yuga or era’. Legend has it that this was the day on which Lord Krishna shed His body signifying the end of the Dwapara Yuga and the commencement of the Kali Yuga.

The morning of 21st of March at Prasanthi Nilayam saw the students of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning make an innovative presentation on the significance of this festival. On this day, it is the tradition to begin the day by partaking of a special preparation known as ‘Ugadi Pacchadi’. Six ingredients go into the making of this dish, each one representative of the six tastes – sweet, sour, spicy, salty, savoury and bitter. This reminds us to accept both the joys and sorrows that life offers us with equal mindedness. When the students offered the dishes containing these ingredients to Bhagawan, He created Vibhuti, sprinkled it on the dishes and then mixed them Himself. He also blessed the Kumkum (vermillion) and Haldi (turmeric) used for the veneration of the ‘Gudi’ (a pole with a vessel placed on top of it which represents auspiciousness) that is traditionally worshipped on this day by the people of Maharashtra.

The presentation by the students began with the ‘Panchanga Shravanam’, the traditional reading of the almanac that tells us what the planetary positions and stars have in store for us in the coming year. In conclusion, the students declared that when we have the Anugraha (Grace) of the Lord, no Graha (planet) can have any ill-influence on us. They then dwelt on the significance of time, and on how important time management is in one’s life. Interspersed with music and short skits, the presentation had the audience captivated for the good part of an hour and a half.

In the evening, there was a pleasant surprise awaiting everyone and particularly the students of the Sri Sathya Sai Mirpuri College of Music, as Bhagawan chose this auspicious occasion to present the college with new musical instruments. Thereafter, there were talks by two students of Bhagawan’s Institute in Telugu and English, followed by a talk by Sri S.V. Giri, the Vice-Chancellor of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. He elaborated on the significance of time in the Indian system of belief and explained the import of the name of the New Year – “Taarana.”

Bhagawan, in His Ugadi Message, said that while we may perform many kinds of spiritual practices to attain God, it is best to remember the Oneness immanent in all Creation. Although our mind and the senses may perceive the vast variety patent in the world, yet we must realize that all that we see is nothing but a projection of our own Self. Bhagawan concluded His Discourse with two Bhajans (Hari Bhajan Bina… and Govinda Krishna Jai…). Later, Bhagawan said that He would answer any doubts or queries the students had regarding the points Bhagawan had mentioned in His Discourse. The happy day that it was, it left everyone with the hope that the year ahead would be as happy as its beginning.