Agynaecologist by profession, Dr Manju Reddy has a soft spot for Ugadi. She says, “It’s like starting afresh. Besides buying something new for the household and making new investments, Ugadi also means incorporating various flavours into life, just like the pachadi I make on this day, in a new clay pot. The wisdom of sweet, bitter, sour, tangy, salty, and spicy is what life is all about! And likewise, as I welcome the new year, I ensure not to shy away from these realities.”
Dr Manju is married to Dr Srinivas Muppidi, an orthopedician, and they have a son, Pranav, who works with a bank in New York as a data scientist. Recounting some childhood Ugadi memories, Manju says, “We used go to my grandparents’ village, where there was lots of hungama! Relatives, cousins, a house filled with people… and never-ending yummy food, without diet restrictions! My favourite part of the festival used to be wearing new and special traditional attire. My excitement would be at its peak!
But how have the celebrations changed over the years for Dr Manju? “Earlier,” she replies, “the celebrations took place in joint families, and every detail was looked into meticulously. Lots of attention was given in the kitchen as well as the puja, and most of the preparation was made at home itself. For example, garlands were made at home, unlike nowadays. Due to professional responsibilities or lack of help at home, we all resort to convenient shortcuts and sometimes even outsource a lot of things. Also, the puja is not performed as in the earlier days, and food definitely does not have the flavour which our mothers probably gave! It seems like technology has taken over tradition!”