Vasant Panchami will be celebrated on 10 February, 2019 across India. The festival, also called Basant Panchami, marks the onset of spring season. It is a Hindu festival which is celebrated every year on the fifth day in Hindu calendar month of Magha (about January end or February). Goddess Saraswati who symbolises ‘learning, knowledge and wisdom’ is worshipped on this day. The festival is celebrated in temples, homes, offices and educational institutions with full fervour.

According to Hindu texts, Saraswati Puja is associated with Brahma Vaivarta Purana. Goddess Saraswati had been granted a boon that she would be worshipped along with other Hindu deities, and this day would be dedicated to her. In the book termed ‘Taittiriya Brahmana’, Goddess Saraswati is referred to as the mother of mellifluous music and fluent speech. She is known to be the deity of purifying and healing powers and flowing rivers in Rigveda Book 10. In Hindu Vedic literature, the Goddess is given the same importance as that of river Ganges. She is eulogised in the Book 10 of Rigveda as the epitome of knowledge. In Dharma Shastra or scriptures and Upnishad, the deity is called on in prayers to remind readers to contemplate on virtuous emoluments.

Students are supposed to lay their books at the feet of the Goddess on this day so as to seek her blessings to gain success in education and related fields. It is said everyone should Saraswati puja because knowledge is infinite and there is no age limit for one to gain knowledge.

These are rituals the faithful followed on this day:

·         Take bath early in the morning with water containing neem leaves and turmeric. Neem and turmeric have medicinal properties to protect against all kinds of infections. They are believed to purify body. After having bath, wear either white or yellow coloured new or clean clothes.

·         Clean the puja area. Place a chowki there, and then place an idol of Goddess Saraswati decorated with mogra garland and flowers.

·         Light a diya (lamp) and incence sticks. Offer yellow coloured fruits and yellow hued sweets, preferably made at home — such as kesar suji halwa, kesar kheer, kesar meethe chawal and kesar boondi laddoo.

·         Keep all your books, notebooks, pens, inkpot and other stationery products you use or any musical instrument you possess near the idol of Goddess Saraswati.

·         A kalash filled with water and milk mixture, with a sprig of five mango leaves and beetel leaf over it are the other required puja samagri. A beetel nut and durva grass are kept on top of it.

·         During the puja, Lord Ganesha is invoked first (as is done in all pujas), followed by chanting of Saraswati mantra and aarti.

·         The mantra chanted during the puja is:

“Yaa kundendu tushaaradhawala yaa shubhravastravrutta.

Yaa veena varadanda manditakara yaa shweta padmasanaa.

Yaa brahmachyuta shankara prabhrutibhi devai sadaa vandita’

Saa maam pathu saraswati bahgavati nishshesha jadyapaha”.

‘Aum Saraswathyae Namah, Dhyanartham Pushpam Samarpayami’

Basant Panchami and significance of yellow colour 

Yellow colour is predominant during Vasant Panchami celebrations because the word ‘Basant’ has its origin from yellow colour which depicts the arrival of spring season – a season full of glory and positive energy, prosperity and purity. It signifies the ripening of fruits and crops. In this season, mustard fields in North India bloom giving a yellow coat to the nature. So wearing yellow clothes and offering yellow flowers, yellow fruits and yellow sweets to Goddess Saraswati are considered to be very auspicious. Yellow turmeric tilak is also worn by the devotees on their forehead with a wish to get enlightenment from the Goddess. The sweets prepared as ‘naivedyam’ or ‘prasadam’ contain saffron (kesar) because its red, orange and yellow colour combinations are treated as most sacred in Hindu religion. These hues can be seen in sacred fire and during sunrise and sunset. That is why, on this day, kesar suju halwa, kesar boondi ladoo, kesar meete chawal and kesar kheer is prepared to be offered to the deity and distributed as Prasad.

Seek blessings of the Goddess and gain knowledge and wisdom on this pious day. This day is also considered as a propitious day to begin a new work, get married or perform griha pravesh (house warming ceremony) as the day symbolises light, prosperity and optimism.

Happy Vasant Panchami!