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Vasant Panchami in India

Vasant Panchami in India

When is Vasant Panchami?

Vasant Panchami, also known as Saraswati Puja, Shree Panchami, or the Basant Festival of Kites, is a Sikh and Hindu festival held on the fifth day of the traditional Indian calendar month of Magha (usually early February).

It is a public holiday in India’s Haryana, Odisha, Tripura, and West Bengal regions.

The festival marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring – Vasant Panchami means the fifth day (‘Panchami’) of Spring (‘Vasant’). It takes place 40 days before Holi and marks the start of preparations for that festival.

Traditions of Vasant Panchami

Hindus worship Saraswati Devi, the Goddess of wisdom, knowledge, music, art, and culture, on this day. Legend has it that Lord Brahma had created the earth and humans, but felt it was all a bit too quiet, so on this day, he created Saraswati by sprinkling some water in the air. As she came from water, she is also called the water deity. Saraswati then filled the world with beautiful music and blessed the world with her voice.

Saraswati has four hands which symbolize ego, intellect, alertness, and the mind. She is often pictured seated on a lotus or a peacock, wearing a white dress.

A popular legend associated with Vasant Panchami is a story about a poet called Kalidasa. Kalidasa had somehow ended up marrying a beautiful princess, who kicked him out when she realized he was foolish.

In despair, Kalidasa was planning to kill himself when Saraswati emerged from the river and told him to bathe in the waters. When he did, the water gave him wisdom and led to him writing poetry.

The yellow is strongly associated with Vasant Panchami, representing the fields of mustard, a common sight in the Punjab and Haryana areas at this time of year. People wear bright yellow clothes and cook colorful food to mark the beginning of spring, with many of the dishes being yellow, such as “meet chawal” and sweetened rice flavored with saffron. 

Like Markar Sankranti, Kite flying is a popular custom associated with this festival, particularly in Punjab and Haryana. Flying kites on this day signifies freedom and enjoyment.

Vasant Panchami Celebrations :

Basant Panchami is a festival dedicated to Goddess Saraswati. There is no specified time for performing Saraswati puja on this day. However, it is stated that all the rituals should be performed when the ‘Panchami’ (5th day) tithi is prevailing.

On the day of Basant Panchami, people dress up in yellow clothes. Yellow is a color that signifies the vibrancy of life and the vividness of nature. Young girls mainly adorn bright yellow dresses and participate in the festivities. Yellow is also known to symbolize love, prosperity, and purity.

The devotees get up early and begin preparations for worshipping Goddess Saraswati. The idols of Saraswati are beautifully adorned, and devotees offer prayers with complete devotion. On this day, yellow flowers are offered to Goddess Saraswati, and a special bhog of ‘Kesar Halwa’ is made from flour, nuts, sugar, and cardamom powder. This preparation also includes saffron strands giving it a mild fragrance and vibrant yellow color. Havan and other puja rituals are performed on this day. After the puja, the Prasad is distributed among all the students and devotees.

The day of Vasant Panchami holds special significance for students. As Saraswati is the Goddess of wisdom and knowledge, students worship Her with immense enthusiasm and zeal. They keep their notebooks, pens, and pencils near Goddess Saraswati’s feet and ask for enlightenment. The day of Vasant Panchami is also considered auspicious for initiating studies in young children. This tradition is called “Vidya Arambham’ or ‘Akshar Abhyasam’ and is predominant in different parts of the country. Schools and colleges organize special events on this day.

In some regions of northern India, particularly Punjab and Haryana, the tradition of Kite flying on the day of Vasant Panchami is very renowned. Children and adults both participate in different kite-flying competitions.

Significance of Basant Panchami :

‘Vasant’ implies ‘Spring,’ and ‘Panchami’ denotes ‘fifth day.’ Therefore it s celebrated n the 5th day of the Spring season. This festival terminates the old winter waves and welcomes the vibrancy of the spring season. On the day of Vasant Panchami, devotees offer prayers to Goddess Saraswati and seek Her divine blessings to get enlightened with wisdom and knowledge. They also ask to get rid of sluggishness, lethargy, and ignorance. Many astrologers believe the day of Vasant Panchami to be ‘Abhuja,’ implying that it is auspicious to do good work all day long. The Vasant Panchami festival holds immense religious, social, and seasonal significance in Hinduism and is celebrated with full optimism in most parts of the world.

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