A ‘Gudhi’ is a symbolic high-flying flag signifying victory. It has several mythological and historical connotations. It is believed to ward off evil and invite good fortune into the house that hoists it on the Gudhi Padwa day (Maharashtrian New Year).
According to Brahma Purana, a Gudhi is a Brahmadhvaj (Brahma’s flag), it is believed that Lord Brahma created the universe on this day. Gudhi also symbolizes Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana and his coronation as the king of Ayodhya. Maharashtrians view the Gudhi as a symbol of Maratha victory, led by Shivaji Maharaj. It also has significance from the Shalivahana era as a Gudhi was hoisted to represent victory over the Sakas.
In modern India, generally in Maharashtra, a Gudhi is hung out of a window or hoisted in a prominent place in front of the house on the day of Gudhi Pawa. A bright silk and brocade (zari) cloth is tied at the top of a long pole. A small metal pot is placed upside down over it. The Gudhi is adorned with battase or sakhar gathi (sugar cubes), neem and mango leaves and a garland of flowers. In the morning, a small pooja is done at the time of hoisting. The Gudhi is taken down at the end of the day. The silk cloth and pot are stored away for re-use the following year. Some families even have a cloth and a pot passed down from previous generations, a kind of heirloom.