Usher in a New Ugadi Festival by Saving Water 



ಯುಗ ಯುಗಾದಿ ಕಳೆದರೂ
ಯುಗಾದಿ ಮರಳಿ ಬರುತಿದೆ
ಹೊಸ ವರುಷಕೆ ಹೊಸ ಹರುಷವ
ಹೊಸತು ಹೊಸತು ತರುತಿದೆ

A well known Kannada song presents the significance of Ugadi festival. Ugadi is the first day of the month of Chaitra (March–April) as per the Saka calendar or ‘Hindu New Year’. This festival is celebrated in Indian states below the Vindhya Mountains as Yugadhi in Karnataka, Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh, Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra and Goa.

While there are a lot of rituals connected to Ugadi just like any other Hindu festival, the most noteworthy tradition associated to Ugadi is the symbolic eating of the Bevu Bella dish with six tastes that signify the fact that life is a mixture of different experiences – sadness, happiness, anger, fear, disgust, surprise. The special mixture consists of:

  • Neem for its bitterness, signifying Sadness
  • Jaggery for sweetness, signifying Happiness
  • Green Chilli/Pepper for its hot taste, signifying Anger
  • Salt for saltiness, signifying Fear
  • Tamarind Juice for its sourness, signifying Disgust
  • Unripened Mango for its tang, signifying Surprise


The Bevu-Bella dish embodies the Indian way of looking at life that it is our Karma to face both sadness and happiness with a stoic mindset. However, we can observe that today’s society is full of people who don’t want to face the harsh reality of life and escape into a dreamy world. Indian society’s obsession with Bollywood is a classic example of our escapism from our reality. We don’t want to face it and find a solution to our problems.

The harsh reality that is facing our world today is the massive pollution of our environment and our minds. Garbage is strewn all over the place, water bodies are polluted beyond restoration, air is choked with smog and global warming is heating up the world. Did you notice that 2014 was the hottest ever year since the ice ages? Did you notice that it was raining in peak winter this time across India? How hot the summer is going to be this year? Are we prepared to face the heat? Have we stored up enough water to last the next three months?

You might say, I alone cannot do much to save water or the environment. Yes, while we individuals can’t do much, we can do something together to change the situation. We can appeal together to our urban bodies, municipalities to take measures to save water. Water scarcity is fast becoming urban India’s number one woe, with government’s own data revealing that residents in 22 out of 32 major cities have to deal with daily shortages.
As you can see in the figure below, almost every major city in India faces a shortage of water supply.

Instead of looking at ways to conserve water, we have conveniently solved our water crisis by digging more borewells and extracting groundwater. This convenient method has been immensely suitable for us since we don’t any government permission to dig as many bore wells we want! However, we didn’t realise one thing – groundwater is like a fixed deposit of water stored over centuries and if we misuse it beyond drinking purposes, the water source is going dry up. That has already happened across many cities in India!

Hey, why did we diverge into this miserable water scarcity issue, while talking about Ugadi? That’s because this time, Ugadi is coinciding with “World Water Day”! A belief associated to Ugadi is the custom to throw out stored water, clean all the pots and tanks and fill them with new water. Known as “ಹೊಸ ನೀರು” or “new water”, this custom is a remnant of the days when there was no chemical treatment or filtering of water, and germs could build up in the sediment at the bottom or the algae layer at the edges. So this Ugadi, let’s make an effort to find ways to conserve water.

Here are some ways to prevent water wastage –

  • Collect the soapy water after washing clothes and use it for cleaning cars and bikes
  • Implement rain water harvesting system in our house
  • Do not brush your teeth or shave with a running tap
  • Use the half flush after urination
  • Repair any leaking pipe or a dripping water tap regularly
  • Install automatic motor switch for our overhead tank

Factfile –

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