Vasant Panchami also spelt Basant Panchami, is one of the most colourful and wonderful festivals of India, observed on the fifth day of Shukla Paksha of Magha month of the Indian traditional calendar (Hindu Calendar), which typically falls in the Gregorian months of January or February. In the Year 2018, it was celebrated on January 22, 2018, with devotees worshipping the goddess of wisdom and learning Goddess Saraswati, so this festival is also known as Saraswati Pooja.
Basant Panchami is meant to welcome the season of spring as also Maa Saraswati, so this festival is Known as Shri Panchami and Saraswati Panchami. This day marks the beginning of spring. Students in schools and colleges celebrate this day and worship even books and pens along with Maa Saraswati. Devotees also take a holy dip at Triveni Sangam in Uttar Pradesh’s Allahabad.
People traditionally wear yellow on this day. Yellow is considered an auspicious colour for the occasion, hence devotees donning yellow clothes, offering yellow flowers and yellow sweets. Kesar halwa, sweet rice garnished with saffron is popularly prepared in households.
During the Vasant Panchami festival, India’s crop fields are also filled with the yellow colour, as the yellow mustard flowers bloom during this time of the year.
The colour yellow holds a special meaning for this celebration as it signifies the brilliance of nature and the vibrancy of life. The whole place bursts with yellow during the festival.
The festival “Vasant Panchmi” is celebrated in various ways depending on the region, tradition and their beliefs. We are mentioning some as below –
The celebration of the Vasant Panchami is centred on the Hindu goddess Saraswati. Saraswati is the goddess of wisdom. She embodies the different facets of learning such as the music, sciences, arts, craft and skills. She is often pictured seated on a lotus or a white swan, wearing a white dress.
Her white dress is a symbol of purity. Her swan signifies that people should have the ability to discern the good from the bad. The Goddess Saraswati is the goddess of intellect and learning. She has four hands which symbolize ego, intellect, alertness and the mind. She carries a lotus and scriptures in two of her hands and she plays music on the veena (an instrument similar to a sitar) with her other two hands.
She is celebrated with visits to her temples, by playing music and offering prasad. Also, on this day, many families sit down with their young children and babies, initiate them into writing their first letters of the alphabet with their fingers. Some just study or create music together.
Shri Krishna And Radharani
The celebration of Vasant Panchami can be traced back to Dwapara Yuga. According to scriptures like Srimad Bhagwatam and other Vaishnava scriptures, the transcendental Vasant Ras Lila had taken place on the Govardhan hill in this night. The place, later, came to be known as Chandra Sarovar. It is also mentioned in the scriptures that Lord Chandradev stood still for one night of Brahma to look at this divine dance of Sri Krishna and his beloved Gopis, headed by Srimati Radharani.
God Kamadeva and Rati
Others mark it as the festival of god Kama, the Hindu deity of love, This festival is celebrated by remembering the loved one particularly one’s spouse or special friend, celebrating it with spring flowers. As it’s linked with the god of love and its traditions have led some scholars to call it “a Hindu form of Valentine’s Day”.
The legend behind the day, when Parvati approached Kaama to wake up Shiva from Yogic meditation since the Maha Shivaratri. The other gods support Parvati and seek Kama’s help to bring Shiva back from his meditation to do his duties in the world. Kaama agrees and shoots arrows, made of flowers and bees, at Shiva from his heavenly bow of sugarcane in order to arouse him to pay attention to Parvati. Vasant Panchami is associated with the emotions of love and emotions.
Traditionally, in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh, people worship Shiva and Parvati, after bathing in the morning.
Deo Temple: Sun God
The shrine of the Sun-God in Aurangabad district, Bihar, known as the Deo-Sun Shrine, was established on Basant Panchami. The day is celebrated to commemorate the founding of the shrine by King Aila of Allahabad and the birthday of the Sun-Deo God. The statues are washed and old red clothes on them are replaced with new ones on Basant Panchami. Devotees sing, dance and play musical instruments.
Namdhari Sikhs have historically celebrated Basant Panchami to mark the beginning of spring. Other Sikhs treat it as a spring festival, and joyfully celebrate it by wearing yellow coloured clothes, emulating the bright yellow mustard flowers in the fields. Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the founder of the Sikh Empire, encouraged the celebration of Basant Panchami as a social event in the Gurdwaras.
Various Customs and Tradition of Vasant Panchami in States
People celebrate the day by wearing yellow, eating sweet dishes and display yellow flowers in homes. In Rajasthan, it is customary for people to wear yellow cloths and prepare yellow sweet rice (Binaj). Deities of Mother Saraswati are decorated and people offer her prayers. In Maharashtra, newly married couples, wearing yellow dresses visit a temple and offer prayers on the first Basant Panchami after the wedding.
In Uttarakhand, in addition to Saraswati Puja, people worship Shiva, Parvati as the mother earth and the crops or agriculture. In the Punjab region, Sikhs and Hindus wear a yellow turban or head dress (Pagadi/Saafa) and Basant Panchmi is celebrated as a seasonal festival by all faiths and is known as the Basant Festival of Kites or “Dor and Guddi” festival. Children buy Dor (Thread) and Guddi or “Patang” (Kites) for the sport.
In Eastern India, specifically West Bengal, people observe “Hathe Khori” i.e. they ask their children to learn alphabets and write it down.
Others wear yellow clothes and eat yellow rice to emulate the yellow mustard (Sarson) flower fields, or play by flying kites. The Vasant Panchami also marks the start of preparation for Holika bonfire and Holi, which occurs forty days later.
And last but not the least, our prayer goes: May Maa Saraswati bless us all to attain enlightenment through knowledge and rid ourselves of lethargy, sluggishness and ignorance and grant the boon of wisdom and knowledge.
Happy Basant Panchami!