Festival of Basant Panchami and Swaraswati Puja

Basant Panchami or Vasanta Panchami coincides with the Swaraswati Puja and marks the arrival of spring. It is celebrated on the fifth day of the month of Magha as per the Indian lunar calendar, and considered as the beginning of the Spring season. This day is celebrated as Swaraswati Puja or Swaraswati Jayanti, as it is believed that on this day, Devi Swaraswati was born as the incarnation of knowledge. Devi Swaraswati is also known as the Goddess of language, wisdom, music, arts, and aesthetics.

Basant Panchami has another great significance of love, as it celebrates the God of love – Kamadeva. It is believed that Kamadeva showers the freshness and passion on earth, and enhances the new bloom. Hence, this season is also considered as a perfect subha-muhurta (auspicious timings) for Weddings and other ceremonies.

Basant Panchami is celebrated with a variance in different parts of the Indian subcontinent. In the southern part this day is celebrated as Sri Panchami. In Gujrat, Basant Panchami is celebrated with the decoration of bouquets and flowers, and garlands. In some northern states, you can see the famous kite festival celebrated during this time.

Basant Panchami and Swaraswati Puja 2023
◙ This year Basant Panchami celebration on 26th January 2023.
◙ The Panchami Tithi starts on 25th January at 12:34 PM and finish on 26th January at 10:28 AM.

In West Bengal and some other parts of eastern region of India, Basant Panchami is popularly celebrated as Swaraswati Puja (Swaraswati is also spelled as Saraswati) with great grandeur. Saraswati is the Goddess of knowledge, and hence worship of Devi Saraswati means to worship the divinity of knowledge. Devi Saraswati has four hands which are believed to signify the values of four different human personalities: learning, intellect, knowledge, and mind. It is also believed that her four hands symbolize the four Vedas: Samveda, Rigveda, Atharvaveda, and Yajurveda.

On this day of Saraswati Puja, women get dressed in yellow-coloured sarees or dresses as yellow signifies freshness, happiness, positivity, optimism, enlightenment, remembrance, and joy. A popular Bengali ritual known as “hate khori” is also being performed during this puja, through which little kids within the age of 2-3 years start their education.

Saraswati Puja is especially very popular among the students and academician. On this day Students wake up early in the morning, take a bath and perform the puja rituals. They offer ‘anjali’ to Devi Saraswati with flowers and petals and prey for success in their academics. In many cities of West Bengal, pandals are made to celebrate this puja and beautiful large idols are brought to worship Goddess Saraswati.

Bengalis consider Saraswati Puja as one of the major festivals. And as prasadam (food offerings), devotees prepare “bhog” for the Devi. Traditionally as bhog, Bengalis prepare veg dishes, mostly khichdi, sabji, and chutney. Indian Jujube is considered as one of the most important offerings of this puja as it is believed that Devi Saraswati loves this fruit. A funny belief lies on this fruit too, i.e., if any kid eats this fruit before offerings in Saraswati puja, he/she will get poor results in his/her upcoming exams.

In few regions, this Saraswati Puja is followed by a very famous Bengali ritual, termed as “Gota Seddo” (whole boiled). It is a regional dish where whole moong dal or urad dal is boiled with 6 different vegetables and 6 pieces of each of them. After simply boiling it is smashed and seasoned with salt, mustard oil, and chilies and served fresh and hot.

Saraswati Puja also signifies the beginning of the preparation of other religious festivals celebrated in coming months, and the famous festival of colours ‘Holi’ is celebrated after forty days of Vasant Panchami.

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