1 . Vasant panchami
Vasant Panchami sometimes referred to as Saraswati Puja, Shree Panchami, or the Basant Festival of Kites is a Sikh and Hindu festival held on the fifth day of Magha marking the start of spring and the Holi season. On this day Hindus worship Saraswati Devi, the goddess of knowledge, music, art and culture.For Sikhs, in the Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar, on the day of Vasant Panchmi, musicians start the music by singing Basant Raga. This practice continues up until the first day of Vaisakh when Basant Rag is no longer used.A fair normally held at the famous Sikh shrine of Guru ka Lahore in Bilaspur district to mark the occasion of the marriage of Guru Gobind Singh Ji on Vasant Panchami.
2 . Occurrence
Vasant Panchami is the first and more minor of two spring themed festivals in Hindu culture. Vasant Panchami initiates the spring festive cycle and heralds its summation that occurs with Holi.The seasonal aspects of the festival are more significant in Northern India due to the sharper contrast between the winter and the spring,however the festivals religious and cultural significance are emphasized across all celebrating regions. In ancient Indian literature, Vasant Panchami is associated with Shringara Rasam and the festival was celebrated in this tradition.Celebrations today still honor Kamadeva, his wife Rati, and his friend Vasant.
3 . Traditions
During the ancient period when Vasant Panchami was more oriented toward Kamadeva, dancing girls, dhol players, and other celebrants would come to the royal Bakshis palace to create an informal durbar with the royals. Specially made Vasanti clothes would be worn by the dancing girls and younger royal ladies, consisting of a skirt, blouse, and pink or saffron sari with tiny red square or circular dots. This clothing would be further embellished with gold and silver borders and brocade work. On the celebration day the dancing girls would collect flowers and mango leaves a reference to one of the love arrows of Kama Dev from the garden of the Bakshis palace. The flowers and mangoes were arranged in brass vessels and the informal durbar would be set up. The occasion was marked by the singing of various ragas usually on the theme of love especially songs involving Krishna and Radha or the gopies of Brij Bhoomi. At the conclusion of the celebration, the flowers would be sprinkled with red gulal and the dancing girls would apply it to their cheeks. They were then gifted a sum of money by the royal ladies.Today this is not practiced, and the festival is oriented toward Sarasvati, however Kamadeva remains an important figure as feasts are held in his honor during Vasant Panchami,and the theme of love remains an important part of the festival with this being the most popular day of the year for weddings in some areas.
4 . Celebrations
Vasant Panchami is an important Indian festival celebrated every year in the month of Magh according to the Hindu calendar. Celebrated on the fifth day of Magh, the day falls somewhere in the months of February or March according to the Gregorian calendar. The significance of the day lies in the worship of Goddess Saraswati, symbol of wisdom and also the onset of spring season.
According to the popular belief, the origins of this festival lie in Aryan period. Aryans came and settled in India through Khyber Pass, crossing the Saraswati River among many others. Being a primitive civilization, most of their development took place along the banks of the River Saraswati. Thus, River Saraswati began to be associated with fertility and knowledge. It is then that the day began to be celebrated.
According to mythology, a popular associated with this day is connected with poet Kalidasa. After he was married off to a beautiful princess through trickery, the princess kicked him out of her bed as she learned that he was foolish. Following this, Kalidasa went to commit suicide, upon which Saraswati emerged from the waters and asked him to take a dip there. After taking a dip in the holy waters, Kalidasa became knowledgeable and began writing poetry. Thus, Vasant Panchami is celebrated to venerate Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of education and learning.
In todays times, the festival is celebrated by farmers as the on coming of the spring season. The day is largely celebrated in Northern Parts of India. Here, people offer food to the Brahmins and organize rituals in the name of Goddess Saraswati.
The color yellow is the predominant color associated with the festival, the origins of which are supposed to be the fields of mustard which can be seen in Punjab and Haryana during this period. Kite flying is also commonly associated with this festival. Children as well as adults fly kites on this day to celebrate freedom and enjoyment.
Another tradition associated with this day is that of initiating studies in the young. Young children often begin learning on this day, which is believed to be the reason why the school sessions start in the month of March. Sweets with a yellow hue are also distributed on this day and people can also be seen donating books and other literary material to the poor.
5 . Significance
The festival of Basant Panchami is dedicated to Saraswati, the Goddess of Wisdom. According to the Hindu mythology, the goddess symbolizes constant flow of knowledge and wisdom. Vasant Panchami is also believed as the birthday of Goddess Saraswati. The spring festival of Basant Panchami is especially celebrated in the institutions of learning. As Saraswati is the goddess of learning, Students observe the blessings from Maa Saraswati. Spring is the season when crops are fully bloomed, so people also celebrate this occasion by flying kites.
6 . Birthday of Goddess Saraswati
It is believed that on this day goddess Saraswati was born. Hindus celebrate Vasant Panchami with great fervor in temples, homes and even schools and colleges. Saraswati
7 . The Foundation of Education
The most significant aspect of Vasant Panchami is that it is also the most auspicious day to begin laying one
8 . A springtime celebration
During Vasant Panchami, the advent of spring is felt in the air as the season undergoes change. New leaves and blossoms appear in the trees with the promise of new life and hope. Vasant Panchami also announces the arrival of another big springtime event in the Hindu calendar Holi, the festival of colors.
9 . Saraswati mantra
Here is the text of the popular pranam mantra or Sanskrit prayer, Saraswati devotees utter with utmost devotion on this day:
Om Saraswati Mahabhagey, Vidye Kamala Lochaney |
Viswarupey Vishalakshmi, Vidyam Dehi Namohastutey ||
Jaya Jaya Devi, Charachara Sharey, Kuchayuga Shobhita, Mukta Haarey |
Vina Ranjita, Pustaka Hastey, Bhagavati Bharati Devi Namohastutey ||
10 . Saraswati vandana
The following hymn is also recited on Vasant Panchami:
Yaa Kundendu tushaara haaradhavalaa, Yaa shubhravastraavritha|
Yaa veenavara dandamanditakara, Yaa shwetha padmaasana||
Yaa brahmaachyutha shankara prabhritibhir Devaisadaa Vanditha|
Saa Maam Paatu Saraswatee Bhagavatee Nihshesha jaadyaapahaa||