Telugus usher in New Year but model code dampens spirit

Hyderabad, March 31 (IANS): Telugu-speaking people of Telangana and Seemandhra Monday ushered in Telugu New Year 'Ugadi' in a traditional manner and with gaiety, but the election model code of conduct dampened the festive spirit.

Telugus in both the regions decorated their houses and shops with mango leaves, tasted the traditional 'Ugadi pacchadi' and heard 'panchangnam' or the forecast of the coming year by 'agma' pundits.

This is the first Telugu New Year after parliament last month passed a legislation to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh. Telangana and residuary Andhra Pradesh (Seemandhra) will formally come into being as separate states June 2.

As the state is under President's rule, it was Chief Secretary P. K. Mohanty who was the chief guest at the main official function held here.

People in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad thronged the temples since early morning to pray for happiness and prosperity in the coming year.

However, the model code of conduct which is in force for assembly and Lok Sabha elections April 30 and May 7, dampened the 'Ugadi' spirit as the political parties and their leaders were barred from organizing the festivities.

The election authorities have warned that the political leaders organizing feast and distributing clothes or other gifts to public would face action. The state chief electoral officer constituted special teams to check the violations.

The sale of electronic goods, clothes and other items has also come down drastically due to the restrictions imposed by the election authorities. According to traders, people this time did not make bulk purchase as carrying huge amount of cash has become risky in view of the searches being conducted by the police. Even the banks have been asked to monitor transactions of above Rs.1 lakh.

Police have seized more than Rs.65 crore unaccounted cash across the state since the poll schedule was announced early this month. Police officials believe a part of the money was being carried to bribe the voters.

Women prepared 'Ugadi pacchadi', a mixture of neem buds, raw mango, tamarind juice, pepper, jaggery and salt - a must for the celebrations. The mixture symbolizes that life is a mixture of different experiences like happiness and sadness, which should be accepted together and with equanimity.

Thousands of devotees thronged the temples in both the regions. Special prayers were held at Tirumala, Srisailam and Vijayawada temples. People also attend special functions where the pundits read out 'panchangnam' or religious almanac of the coming year. Literary discussions, poetry recitations, recognition of authors through award and cultural programmes marked the day.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan and leaders of various political parties greeted people on the occasion of 'Ugadi' and hoped that the New Year would bring happiness and prosperity for Telugus around the world.



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Title: Telugus usher in New Year but model code dampens spirit

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