Science in Indian Culture – Gudhi Padwa


Many Indian traditions and customs have some science, reasoning and history behind it. Even though we follow our traditions, we have lost the context of some of our traditions. Being an intelligent culture, we may stop following our customs and traditions unless we know the science or reasoning behind it. Indian culture was totally based on the scientific knowledge known at that point of time. It has also evolved over the period of time. There may be other cultures that also have some scientific basis and it will be very interesting to learn about them. If you know any such scientific custom in any culture please add your comments to this blog post.
Few days back, I published blog named ‘Indian concept of time’ that explains the 60 year lunar cycle and also when a year begins for Indians. Hindu year always begins between 15th of March and 15th of April. Interesting enough, many cultures inside as well as outside India, start New Year in March or April. The most natural reason behind this is because Sun enters into Aries during this time and Aries is considered to be first sign of the zodiac. Sun enters into Aries on March 21st based on ‘Sayana’ system or April 15th based on ‘Nirayana’ system. In the past, even in Europe, New Year used to start on 25th March or 6th April.
You will find good information about cultural context of Gudhi Padwa here and what I am planning to do is to add scientific context to Gudhi Padwa. You may be aware about various plants and flowers used to decorate the Gudhi. Mainly Neem leaves and marigold flowers are used on Gudi Padwa and I intend to explain the use of both the plants.
Let's first look at the tradition. Neem is used to decorate Gudhi and everyone is supposed to eat Neem leaves. Neem leaves are supposed to be added to the water while taking the bath (Abhyanga Snanam) on New Year day. This indicates importance of Neem on Gudhi Padwa. Gudhi Padwa falls in summer and if we look at typical diseases during summer, they are different types of skin allergies along with others. One of the common diseases in summer is chicken pox. Neem is very effective in skin care and eating as well as adding Neem in bath water is certainly a good precautionary measure against skin allergies.

According to Ayurveda, first 2 months of New Year (Vasanta Rhutu) is a period during which cough in the body gets liquefied and flows. Neem is considered to be Kaphaghna or the one that removes cough from the body and it is very useful in cleansing process of the body during summer. Intake of Neem leaves is certainly effective in this process. Usage of Neem is not suggested only on Gudhi Padwa and it is a reminder to start the usage of Neem for summer! So if you haven’t had Neem this Gudhi Padwa, have it every day from today. J

During New Year, the season changes and this increases pests and insects in the environment. Marigold, Zandu or Zendu is considered to be a one of the best pest repelling agent and suggested in garden. Here is detailed information of marigold as a pest repellent. Marigold is very effective even for many plant infections in home garden. I have tested the usage of marigold as a pest and insect repelling agent in our terrace garden for many years. Usage of marigold is also advised in Navaratri. Navaratri is in Ashwin that is exactly six months from Gudhi Padwa.

In my experience most of Indian customs and traditions have some reasoning or scientific background and I will discuss it as the festival comes during this New Year.

Note:Kindly take doctors advice before taking any medication. The author is not responsible for any effects good or bad whatsoever. 

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