Vasant Panchami

Vasant Panchami

Basant Panchami or Shree Panchami is a Hindu festival when goddess Saraswati is worshipped. The color yellow also plays an important role in this festival, people dress in yellow, the Deity is dressed in yellow, and yellow sweets are prepared. Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge, music and art. Traditionally, during this festival children are taught to write their first words; Brahmins are fed, ancestor worship or Pitr-tarpan is performed; the god of love Kamadeva is worshipped; and most educational institutions organize special prayers for Saraswati.
BasantPanchami is one of the early festivals of the year. The cold, miserable days usually give way to warmer ones and the fields become very beautiful with the swaying of yellow sarson (mustard).

Festival Time (Tithi)

Basant-Panchamifalls on the Panchami of the ShuklaPaksh (waxing moon) in the month of Magh, sometime at the end of January or the beginning of February.

Festival of India

BasantPanchami is celebrated in north and central India. It is a festival that comes at the end of winter.BASANT PALA URANT [come Basant (spring) andwinter flies] goes a popular saying in North India.

Birthday of Goddess Saraswati

It is believed that on this day, goddess Saraswati was born. Hindus celebrate BasantPanchami with great fervor in temples, homes and even schools and colleges. Saraswati’s favorite color white assumes special significance on this day. Statues of the goddess are dressed in white clothes and are worshiped by devotees.

The Foundation of Education

The most significant aspect of BasantPanchami is that it is also the most auspicious day to begin laying one’s foundation for education – of how to read and write. Pre-school children are given their first lesson in reading and writing on this day. All Hindu educational institutions conduct special prayer for Saraswati on this day. It is also a great day to inaugurate training institutes and new schools – a trend made famous by the renowned Indian educationist PanditMadan Mohan Malaviya (1861-1946), who founded the Banaras Hindu Universityon BasantPanchami day in 1916.

Mode of Celebration

On BasantPanchami day the puja is devoted to Saraswati, the goddess of learning and wife of Brahma, the creator.She bestows a great wealth to humanity, i.e., the wealth of knowledge and she must be propitiated. BasantPanchami is celebrated differently throughout India. Kite flying is very common in many parts where the sky is filled with colorful kites.

Preparations: The puja roommust be clean and neat and a picture or statue of Saraswati, the main deity of the festival, is adorned and decked with yellow flowers. Some people provide garments for the idols and cloth covers for the pictures, leaving the face and figure of the deity uncovered. These dresses are yellow on the festival day and the cover for the seat where the deity is placed along with an idol or picture of Ganesh, is also yellow with gotakinari(fringes) attached all round.

Main Prasad: Sweets in yellow colour are offered to the deity and are treated as main Prasad. (Laddoo, MeethaChawal, yellow Barfi etc.)

Shlokas

SaraswatiMahabhagey, Vidye Kamala Lochaney |
ViswarupeyVishalakshmi, VidyamDehiNamohastutey ||
Jaya Jaya Devi, CharacharaSharey, KuchayugaShobhita, MuktaHaarey |
VinaRanjita, PustakaHastey, BhagavatiBharati Devi Namohastutey ||

SaraswatiVandana: Sanskrit Hymn:

YaaKundendutushaarahaaradhavalaa, Yaashubhravastraavritha|
Yaaveenavaradandamanditakara, Yaashwethapadmaasana||
YaabrahmaachyuthashankaraprabhritibhirDevaisadaaVanditha|
SaaMaamPaatuSaraswateeBhagavateeNihsheshajaadyaapahaa||

English Translation:

“May Goddess Saraswati, who is fair like the jasmine-colored moon,and whose pure white garland is like frosty dew drops;who is adorned in radiant white attire,on whose beautiful arm rests the veena, and whose throne is a white lotus; who is surrounded and respected by the Gods, protect me.

May you fully remove my lethargy, sluggishness, and ignorance.”

Spiritual Significance

The festival bears spiritual significance like all other Hindu festivals. The arrival of spring signifies the end of the days of gloom and awakening into new joy. The spiritual significance is that the festival symbolizes the end to the days of ignorance and awakening into spiritual enlightenment. Goddess Saraswati is portrayed as the Goddess of knowledge.She is the one who bestows the knowledge required for spiritual enlightenment.Hence she is worshipped on this day.

Importance of BasantPanchami

People pray to Goddess Saraswathion this day to be blessed with Knowledge and request her to remove the Darkness of the Mind and to bless them with Eternal Knowledge. She is visualized in whiteattire with the musical instrument Vina in her hand seated on a White Lotus.

Festival of Love

With the coming of BasantPanchami, trees are already shedding their leaves and the breeze is swiftly sweeping them away as if preparing to welcome the king of seasons–“Ritu Raj Basant”. Bright, green, soft, new leaves are raising their heads confidently. BasantPanchami marks the onset of spring season called the BasantRitu in India.

Yellow color holds special significance on this day. BasantPanchami is named after the color Yellow which is called basanti rang in Hindi. Performing artists commence their first performance on this day for luck and success.

This day is also dedicated to Lord Krishna – the fun and frolic of Radha-Krishna is gloriously celebrated in Brij. And of course Cupid (Kamdev) and his consort (Rati) also choose this day to replenish their quiver of love arrows! Hence this festival is also called the “Festival of Love.”

The Legend behind Basant Panchami

Lord Brahma was very happy to complete the creation of the entire world. One day he set out on a journey to see the whole world with his own eyes. After seeing the world, he was very upset because there was complete silence, everyone appeared lonely.

Lord Brahma fell in to critical thinking to see the world in this condition. Suddenly an idea came into his mind and he took water from his Kamandal and sprinkled in the air and an angel appeared from a tree having a harp in the hand.

Lord Brahma requested her to break the silence on the earth with the notes from the harp. Upon his request, the angel blessed the people of the earth with the gift of sound and also filled the earth with the joy of music. Since then, that angel came to be called as Goddess Saraswati or the Goddess of Speech and Knowledge. She is also known as VeenaVadini (harp player) because she has a harp in her hand. She has blessed us with knowledge, the fine arts and the gift of speech.

References

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