The arrival of Spring and Birthday of Goddess Saraswati!
Falling on the fifth day (Panchami) of the Hindu month of Magha(spring season) based on the Hindu calendar, Basant Panchami marks the onset of the spring season in India. Saraswati Puja on Basant Panchami owes its origin to the birth of Goddess Saraswati, daughter of goddess Durga. The festival of Basant Panchami is celebrated differently in different parts of India, most notably in West Bengal and Bihar, it is celebrated as Saraswati Puja. In Rajasthan, people wear jasmine garland to celebrate this festival and in Punjab, it is celebrated as a festival of kites. It is also believed according to Hindu Mythology that Lord Brahma created the universe on this day.
It is considered to be a highly Significant day in Hindu culture. Basant Panchami is considered an extremely auspicious day to start a new work, perform house warming ceremony (GrihaPravesh) or get married.
History of Basant Panchami-
Similar to every Festival celebrated in India, Basant Panchami has an interesting history too. Goddess Saraswati, the deity of learning, music, and art was born on this day according to a popular belief. This is the reason people are often seen celebrating Saraswati Puja on Basant Panchami. Goddess Saraswati is also supposedly worshipped to achieve wisdom.
Another legend is also associated with this day based on the Hindu God of love, Kama and Lord Shiva. It is said that God Kama was approached by Goddess Parvati asking him to wake Shiva from his Yogic meditation to fulfill his earthly duties. To complete his task god Kama is believed to have shot an arrow made of flowers and bees from his bow made of sugarcane. Parts of Bihar also celebrate this festival as the birthday of Sun God.
This festival is highly celebrated in educational institutes like schools and colleges also because of the reason that Goddess Saraswati is considered to be an epitome of wisdom who can bestow lots of wisdom, learning, and knowledge on her devotees. Various programs of song and dance are organized in various educational institutions on this day. Students and teachers can also be seen wearing new clothes and offering prayers to the goddess of knowledge to commemorate Basant Panchami.
Celebrations and Food Offered-
As the festival also marks the harvest time of mustard crop that blooms in Yellow and also believed to be Goddess Saraswati’s favorite color, Yellow has a great significance in the celebration of Vasant Panchami. Hence, it can be seen the followers and devotees of Saraswati wearing Yellow attire. Even the traditional feast is prepared for the festival which is usually yellow and saffron in color. The color Yellow, the color of Basant signifies peace, success, light, energy, and idealism. That is the reason why people wear yellow clothes and prepare traditional delicacies in yellow hues. In parts of Bihar and Bengal, boondi and ladoo is offered to Goddess Saraswati and consumed as Prasad (religious offering) by the devotees. Sweet saffron rice and dry fruits are every house feast on this occasion. Bengalis in particular offer Mango wood, Shripal (coconut), Ganga water, and baer. Punjabis traditionally savor Maakeki Roti and Sarso Ka Saag on this day. While in Bihar Basant Panchami is celebrated as Saraswati Puja by offering delicacies like Kheer, Malpua, and Bundi to the Goddess. Many traditional delicacies, like khichuri, mixed vegetables, Kesaribhaat, payesh, Kesar halwa, Sondesh, begun bhaja, and rajbhog are served as a bhog on this special day to mark the festival similar to all other festivals celebrated in the country. Big processions are held on the day of MurtiVisthapan when the idols of MaaSaraswati are immersed in the holy water of river Ganga. Dahi Chura along with Jaggery and banana are savored on this day to celebrate the event. The statues in the Deo-Sun shrine are washed and old red-colored clothes on them are replaced with new ones in the Aurangabad district of Bihar. Devotees also dance, sing and play musical instruments to mark the festival.
In the parts of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh, devotees worship Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and offer mango flowers and the ears of wheat after bathing in the morning of Vasant Panchami.
In the Kutch Region of Gujarat, it is celebrated by preparing bouquet and garlands of flowers with mango leaves and associated with the emotions of love and emotion. People can be seen dressed in saffron, pink or yellow and singing songs of t Krishna pranks with Radha symbolizing the Hindu deity Kamadeva with his wife Rati.
A few other interesting facts about the festival-
- Punjabi Muslims in Pakistan residing in and around Lahore fly kites during the spring season.
- Even though it is primarily a Hindu festival, it has also been observed by the Chishti order, when some Indian Muslim Sufis adopted it in the 12th century to mark the grave of the Muslim Sufi Saint Dargah of Nizamuddin Aulia in Delhi.
- The founder of the Sikh Empire- Maharaja Ranjit Singh, inspired the celebration of Basant Panchami as a social event in the Gurdwaras.
- On the Islands of Bali, Basant Panchami is called “Hari Raya Saraswati” which is celebrated by Hindus of Indonesia marking the great day of Saraswati. This festival also marks the beginning of the Balinese Pawukon calendar which is of 210-day long.