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Basant Panchami: The day to show our reverence to Goddess of Knowledge

An artist putting finishing touches to idol of goddess Saraswati
An artist putting finishing touches to idol of goddess Saraswati

New Delhi: Predominantly a Hindu festival, Vasant Panchami marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. In West Bengal, the day is celebrated as Saraswati Puja, where people offer prayers to Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom. Wearing saree is a common practice that is followed on this day. Many schools and colleges observe this day by worshipping an idol of the goddess. After the puja is over, prasad is offered to the students and their family members followed by a delicious meal. Kesar Halwa and Khichdi are some of the delicacies that are served on Vasant Panchami. Students flock to their respective schools and colleges to participate in this festival. A plethora of cultural events take place on this day.

Vasant Panchami falls on the fifth day of Magha month of Hindu calender and marks the arrival of spring season. The festival of Vasant Panchami is celebrated every year in the month of Magh according to the Hindu calendar (between February-March). Vasant in Hindi means ‘Spring’ and Panchami means fifth, hence Vasant Panchami falls on the fifth day of Hindu calendar month of Magha. On the day of Vasant Panchmi, also spelled as Basant Panchmi, Hindu devotees worship goddess Saraswati. It also marks the start of preparation for other major Hindu festivals of Holika and Holi, which take place forty days later.

The Vasant Panchmi spots the beginning of Spring – the King of all Seasons. The festival also celebrates the agricultural fields’ maturing with yellow flowers of the mustard crop. The people celebrate the Vasant Panchmi festival day by wearing yellow coloured clothes, eating yellow coloured sweet dishes and display yellow flowers in homes.

Saraswati signifies creative energy and is considered as the goddess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom, and learning. In many parts of the country, it is regarded as an favorable day for kids to write their first words with their fingers/pen/pencil or study some creative art field. On the day of Vasant Panchmi, people dress in yellow coloured clothes, share yellow coloured sweets, and offer yellow flower to goddess Saraswati which is rebgarded as her favourite colour. Some schools also arrange special Saraswati puja for their students in the school premises.

On the day of Vasant Panchami, people wake up early, clean their house, worship area, and take a bath to perform the Saraswati Puja ceremonies. Since yellow is the favourite colour of goddess Saraswati, put a paste of Neem and Turmeric all over their body before taking bath. After worshippers bath get dressed in yellow coloured clothes. Next step is to set up the Saraswati idol in the puja platform/area. A clean white/yellow clothe is placed over a raised platform like table/stool. After that, the idol of Goddess Saraswati is placed in the centre. Along with Goddess Saraswati, many people also place an idol of Lord Ganesha by her side. Children also place their books/notebook/music instrument/or any other creative art element near the idol. Then, the worshippers decorate plate with turmeric, kumkum, rice, flowers and offer it to Saraswati & Ganesha to seek their blessings. Light a small lamp/incense sticks in front of the idols, with their eyes closed join the palms of their hand and recite Saraswati Puja mantra and aarti. Once, the puja rituals are over, share the prasad among family and friends.