Chaitra – Time For Nava Samvatsara


Chaitra – the first month of the Indian Hindu Calendar derives its name from Chitra Nakshatra, in which the full moon will shine. Any new beginning, even if it is the annual revolution of the Earth around the Sun must start with a celebration. No wonder then this is a time of celebration across the country.

Chaitra – Nava Samvatsara or New Year

Karnataka, Andhra and Telangana celebrate it as Ugadi. Which comes from the word Yugadi – the beginning of a new Yuga. Yuga here refers to the new year. Maharashtra celebrates it as Gudi Padwa. You would see the poles with an upturned pot and a colourful flag outside all Maharashtrian homes, joyfully bringing in the new year. Kerala and Tulunadu celebrate it as Vishu. They bring in the new harvest season by looking at Vishukani or auspicious things like fruits, flowers, coconut, mirror, gold and sacred books like Ramayana.

Chaitra - Ayodhya Ram Lalla image

In the far north, Kashmiris celebrate it as Navreh with a similar ritual of beginning the day by looking at the Thali full of auspicious things. Sindhis celebrate it as Cheti Chand which means the moon of Chaitra month.

These are the invisible threads that bind India, diversity in unity – together in roots but diverse in expression and celebrations.

Panchang Vachan

In South India, the tradition of Panchang Vachan, a way to worship Kal-Purusha, by pandits was followed by the Kings. Even today dignitaries listen as the priest reads out the yearly predictions for the year, mostly in temples. Puranas tell us that listening to this is beneficial. I assume it would help you plan the year according to the predictions, especially when there is rainfall prediction. Kashmiris even keep a new Panchang in their thali for the new year Puja.

Do you wonder why should the new year start on this day? Well, Pauranik stories tell us that it is on this day that Brahma ji started the Srishti or the creation cycle that we are a part of. Sri Vishnu took his first avatar as Matsya or fish to protect Manu and the seeds of creation in the boat. The rest of the creation happened from Manu.

Vasanta Navaratri

The first nine days of Chaitra Shukla Paksha are celebrated as Vasanta Navaratri. It is the Vanasantritu – often called Rituraj or king among the seasons. This is the time when nature is at its colorful best, with abundant flowers blooming everywhere – a sign of prosperity. Nine days of Navaratri are dedicated to Devi – the divine feminine, the Shakti whose manifestation we see all around us. Kanya Puja is performed on Ashtami when young girls are worshipped as divine manifestations of Devi.

This Navaratri is more popular in cold regions. In Himachal, the Devis come out for a procession and talk to devotees through mediums called Gur. Girls perform Chaiti Ralli Puja to get a desired husband. In some parts, Chitraul is observed by painting the houses fresh with auspicious symbols of abundance. Bhandaras and Havans are organized in the Devi temples. In Kashmir, women visit their parental homes on Tritiya and come back with Athagat comprising of salt, bread and some money. On Navami, Bhadrakali is worshipped either by visiting her temple or by chanting Bhavani Sahasranam or Bhavani Ashtakam.

18 days Gangaur festival of Rajasthan begins with Holika Dahan and culminates with the Tritiya of Chaitra Shukla Paksha. It celebrates the homecoming of Parvati to her parental home. That is when all the women including girls worship her through the beautifully crafted clay dolls, seeking blessings for the prosperity and wellbeing of their families. Shiva and Gauri are symbolically remarried before sending them back by enacting their wedding.

Transitioning Seasons

If we look at the two major seasons – summers and winters, this is the time when seasons are transitioning from winters to summers. We must prepare ourselves for the coming season. The tradition of fasting or at least restricting Tamasik food like onion, garlic or reduced food intake ensures that our body is cleansed. Our minds are prepared for the upcoming season.

Jyotish and traditional knowledge tell us not to eat Gud or Jaggery during Chaitra month. Remember you had it a lot during the cold winter months. Now it is time to let go of it and move to lighter liquid or juicy diets for the summers.

Chaitra Navaratri culminates Ram Navami

Chaitra Navaratri culminates in Ram Navami on the ninth day. This is the day Sri Vishnu took an avatar as Sri Ram in the home of Raja Dashrath and Kausalya in Ayodhya. Both Valmiki ji and Goswami Tulsidas ji have written enough about the joy that Ayodhya felt at his birth. Even the devatas came down to have Ram’s darshan. Since those times, Chaitra Shukla Navami has been celebrated as Ram Navami. People celebrate it in myriad ways. Some read Ramayana or keep Akhand Path, some chant Ram Raksha Stotra and some just chant the Ram Naam, that is enough for this Kaliyuga. This is the personal puja, but as a community Shobha Yatra passing through the streets brings together the Ram Bhaktas.

New Ram Temple

This year Ram Navami is extra special as Ayodhya has a new temple. A new vigraha of Sri Ram Lalla. For centuries, Ram Bhaktas could not visit the birthplace to celebrate Ram Navami. But this year has opened the gates of Ram Janamsthan for his devotees. Only the devotees can understand the emotion of the celebrations of Ram Navami at the place of his birth in Ayodhya. This year being the first year of the newly built temple, all eyes and all cameras will be focussed on Sri Ram Mandir. Thankfully, technology allows all of us to be a part of Ayodhya celebrations from our own homes or temples.

Traditionally, most ancient civilizations celebrated New Year around this time of the year. That is till January and February were added to the Gregorian calendar and pushed back by a couple of months.

This is the time to take stock of the year gone by, literally for the tax authorities. But generally for planning the upcoming year. It is the time to infuse fresh energy into our lives. It all begins by seeking Ashirwad from our Devatas.

Nava Samvatsar ki Shubhkaamnayen!

This article by Anuradha Goyal was first published in The Organiser on April 09, 2024. This version has been edited for online publication.

This site is Amazon Associate and may earn a small commission on purchases that you make through the links, without impacting what you pay for it.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here