Ugadi celebrations this weekend will mark the inaugural event by Mana Andhra Telugu Association – New Zealand (MATA-NZ) – a new community association for Telugu speaking people in Auckland.

A cultural event has been planned at Dorothy Winston Centre on Saturday, April 10 at 5.30 p.m. with a promise to offer a rich display of Andhra culture comprising of the famous Kuchipudi dance, Telugu songs, along with South Indian food, and the organisers are inviting everyone to take a dip into Telugu culture.

The Association was recently formed in December last year with an aim to promote the Telugu language and cultural events of Andhra Pradesh among the Telugu speaking people, especially amongst the younger generation, and is looking forward to celebrating the Ugadi festival as its inaugural event.

(Left: Dr Reginald Samuel, President Right: Ghouse Majeed, General Secretary MATA_NZ) 

Speaking with the Indian Weekender, Ghouse Majeed, General Secretary (MATA-NZ), said, "There is no better occasion than the festival of Ugadi, which is an auspicious occasion for Telugu people and marks the beginning of the new year as the inaugural event."

"We are looking to welcome everyone and introduce our executive committee members on this occasion along with a range of cultural programs, food and fun associated with our traditional festivity," Ghouse Majid said.

The key office bearers of this newly formed Association include Dr Reginald Samuel, President, Shaik Shamsheeruddin, Vice President, Pratap Reddy Nandi Reddy, Founder President and Treasurer, Ghouse Majeed, General Secretary, Nagabhushanam Gorantla, Joint Secretary, Kiran K Korepa, Joint Secretary and Events Coordinator, Praveen Kumar Kaipu, Youth Wing Coordinator and Jaya Kondra, Women'sWomen's Wing Convenor.

Sharing more information about the celebrations, Ghouse Majid said, "The event will start with Panchanga Sravanam and filled with scintillating performances, traditional dances, songs and music from Andhra Pradesh, a traditional folk song from Telangana, Kannada song from Karnataka, Mohiniyattam dance from Kerala, professional Bharatanatyam from Tamil Nadu, Punjabi song with Bhangra from Punjab and Bollywood songs.

More about Ugadi festival

The festival of Ugadi or Yugadi, which literally means ''the beginning of a new age'' (with reference to the commencement of the Kali Yuga that started when Lord Krishna left the world), is celebrated as the New Year not only within the Andhra region but the entire Deccan region that lies between the Vindhyachal hills and the Kaveri river, consisting of the states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka.

Traditionally the festivities continue for five days of merry-making, colours and enjoyment, with people buying new clothes and jewellery on this occasion.

Ugadi is a time of family unions. People gather together to enjoy and feast on this day. According to ancient traditions, seeking the blessings of the elders in the family is a must for a happy year ahead.

A traditional dish called ''Ugadi Pachchadi'' is prepared on this day with jaggery, green pepper, salt, neem flowers, tamarind and raw mango pieces symbolic of all the flavours of ''life''.

A special mixture made of neem leaves and jaggery are distributed among everyone.