Even in bleak times, festivals bring in that much-needed respite. Today on the occasion of Gudi Padwa, Madhuri Dixit Nene cherishes her childhood memories of the festival and tells us what makes it special. In a conversation with Bombay Times, she says, “Gudi Padwa is our New Year. It marks the arrival of spring and new beginnings, which is why it’s an auspicious day. My mom hails from Ratnagiri (Konkan region in Maharashtra), and my earliest memories of Gudi Padwa are associated with my visits to that town, which is my aajol (maternal grandparents’ house).”

Madhuri says, “Growing up, I remember reaching my grandparents’ house in Ratnagiri late in the evening and waking up to sounds of the cuckoo singing on the morning of Gudi Padwa. I was so fascinated. When you are born and raised in a city, these things mean a lot more to you. Along with my cousins, we would step out to select the bamboo for the gudi. Then, we would decorate it with flowers and edible necklaces made from sugar before mounting it outside our home and worshipping the gudi. At sun set, we would bring the gudi down, and even that would be celebrated.”

The actress recalls how her grandfather believed in doing things on his own and always encouraged that culture. She shares, “He would make us rub cow dung on the floor to make the surface pure. We would draw a rangoli on the floor and then place the Gudi on it after performing a puja. Since we had our own cows and buffaloes, the milk was in-house as well, and we would make shrikhand at home. Shrikhand-puri was a big treat. There was a Neem tree in our compound, and we would pluck the leaves. Aaji would grate those leaves on the grinding stone, put cumin seeds in it and make us eat that. It used to be bitter, but she ensured we didn’t skip it. This was done for health reasons. The fun part was the family getting together. We would climb trees, play and do a lot of masti. I remember buying a toy bullock cart from Ratnagiri as that was reminiscent of my childhood spent well there. My mother bought me dool (delicate traditional gold earrings worn by Maharashtrian girls) on the occasion.”

Moving back to the present, with muted festivities on the card, the actress will spend the day with her family this year.On a parting note, the actress says, “COVID-19 has displaced lives. People are battling so many difficulties. May every day of this new year bring solace, peace and harmony. Let’s pray for normalcy. I request everyone to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Let’s try to do the right thing, and I wish everyone a Happy New Year.”

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