Saraswati Puja, also known as Basant Panchami or Vasant Panchami, is a major Hindu festival in India. On this day, Goddess Saraswati is worshipped to gain knowledge, dispelling laziness, lethargy and ignorance. While some people also celebrate the harvest and the advent of spring as Basant Panchami.
Saraswati Puja is observed on the first day of spring, i.e. on the fifth day (Panchami) of the Hindu month of Magha (January–February) as per the Hindu calendar. Hence, this year Saraswati Puja falls on Wednesday, 14 February.
Goddess Saraswati is a Hindu goddess who embodies knowledge, wisdom, music and the performing arts. She is presented as a graceful woman in white, a symbol of purity and peace. In addition, the deity is seen as a serene goddess bearing a crescent moon on her forehead, gracefully seated either on a swan or on a lotus flower.
Though many stories are associated with Saraswati Puja, one of the most prevalent folk tales is that of the great poet Kalidasa. According to folklore, Kalidasa was a simple man who married a princess who did not respect him. Feeling disrespected, Kalidas tried to contemplate his life, but before doing so, Goddess Saraswati appeared before him.
She asks him to take a dip in the river, and then when Kalidas comes out of the river, he becomes a wise and erudite person, ultimately gaining recognition as a renowned poet. This is the fact of where Goddess Saraswati is worshipped to seek the gift of knowledge and prosperity.
Saraswati Puja is a significant festival of Hindus and is widely celebrated by Hindus in India, Bangladesh and Nepal. In fact, this festival is also celebrated in Indonesia and Bali, known as ‘Hari Raya Saraswati’. Saraswati Puja is celebrated as a grand festival all over India.
In Punjab, the celebration is known as Vasant Ritu as well as Kite Festival. In West Bengal, a traditional ceremony is followed on this day, where babies pen down their first word. In Maharashtra, it is believed that on this day, arrows made of flowers and bees were shot to bring Lord Shiva back from meditation to pay attention to his consort Parvati. This is why Marathi people also visit Shiva temples on this day and worship Shiva and Parvati by offering flowers and wheat.
In Rajasthan, women and girls wear jasmine garlands, a customary practice of Saraswati Puja. In Southern India, the day is referred to as Sri Panchami.
It is believed that Maa Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom, was incarnated on this day. This day is considered an auspicious day to initiate any kind of new venture, and ceremonies like Griha Pravesh (Housewarming) and marriage ceremonies can also be performed.
Though this auspicious festival of Saraswati Puja is celebrated across the country, but this festival is observed in different ways in every part of India. In certain parts of India, individuals don yellow and white clothes and consume yellow rice.
Yellow symbolises the flowering of mustard fields and is also believed to be the favourite colour of Goddess Saraswati. At the same time, some celebrate this day by flying colourful kites. Apart from this, grand pujas are organised in all educational institutions as well as at home. Therefore, various cultural activities like music, dance etc., also take place in schools and colleges.
Students also offer pens, pencils and books to seek the blessings of knowledge from the diety. While at home, devotees diligently clean their homes and place an idol of Maa Saraswati on the sacred altar. After the installation of Goddess Saraswati, she is adorned with exquisite garments, flowers, illuminate lamps or diyas, and incense sticks.
Then Saraswati Puja is done with chanting of mantras, performing aarti, and recitation of Saraswati Stotra or Bhajan. Lastly, she is offered mustard and marigold flowers, prasad, which includes khichdi, kheer, zarda or kesar pulao, malpua and an assortment of sweets.
Saraswati Puja will be observed in 2024 on February 14th, coinciding with the auspicious onset of the spring season. The day is considered an auspicious occasion to embark on new endeavours and seek the blessings of Maa Saraswati for success and prosperity. Devotees celebrate Saraswati Puja with utmost devotion, joy and enthusiasm.
This is all about Saraswati Puja. We wish you a very blessed Saraswati Puja. May Goddess Saraswati bless you with wisdom, happiness, and good fortune.
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