Vasant Panchami or Saraswati Puja is a festival celebrated in India to mark the advent of spring. This festival is celebrated during the month of Magh, which in Gregorian terms comprises parts of January and February.
Goddess of learning
However, this festival has a special significance in the sense that it is the day when Goddess Saraswati, the Hindu deity of knowledge and learning, is worshipped. The festival is celebrated with great gusto at homes and educational institutions. Among other things, students learn values such as discipline and dedication by working with other students and organising the festival at home or school. Teachers, students and other staff of educational institutions take part in puja which takes place in the morning, while cultural programmes are being held in the afternoon and evening.
Worship for a bright career
One of the most iconic images associated with the festival is that Students keep their books and other stationery items around the idol to seek blessing. The basic thought behind such an exercise is the belief of students that the goddess will be pleased with the offerings made to her during the ritual and bless the books, by reading which the students will get good marks in their upcoming examinations. Normally, science and mathematics books are preferred because of their perceived difficulty as well as the scope of a good and bright career.
Girls creation of alpana and anjali
One also gets to see lovely artwork during the festival as young girls show their artistic work and come up with some stupendous alpana and footmarks of the goddess. This is created by mixing chalk powder with water and then creating a thick mixture to create the said designs. Anjali, another ritual of paying respects to the deity, As part of the ritual some students get up in the morning, have a bath, get ready and skip breakfast with the basic idea of appeasing the goddess and scoring high.
The fruit kool is an intrinsic part of the festival. It is a small round fruit, which is mostly greenish/brownish and has a sweet and tangy taste. The common belief is that the first kool of the season has to be eaten after offering anjali to Goddess Saraswati. It is said that consuming kool before Saraswati Puja often results in a student performing poorly in the exams.
Is it the Bengali’s Valentine Day?
One of the most common scenes for any casual passerby on a Saraswati puja afternoon is that of scores of young couples walking next to each other with a smile on their faces and a glint of mischief in their eyes. Yes, this is the specific reason for which this festival is regarded as the Bengali Valentine’s Day. Thanks to greater access to technology, these days youngsters are always in touch with each other, as long as they are awake. Therefore this day is full of fun, especially for youngsters.
Significance of yellow
Farmers who belong to north India celebrate Basant Panchami differently as yellow flowers of their mustard crop adorn their fields. People of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Bengal, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh celebrate this day by offering prayers to Goddess Saraswati. As per the Hindu mythology, it is believed that the goddess Saraswati was born on Basant Panchami.
Generally, people wear yellow clothes and worship Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom, and learning. This festival is famous for the preparation of different kinds of cuisines like labra (mixed vegetables), paayesh, begun bhaja, sondesh, khichuri, rajbhog and sweet saffron rice. In many parts of the country, people fly kites on this auspicious occasion.
Vasant Panchami also knocks the door to begin the preparation for other major festivals of Holika and Holi, which would generally take place forty days later.