New Delhi: The auspicious occasion of Basant or Vasant Panchami is here and the entire nation is soaked in the festive spirit. The day is a Hindu spring festival which falls in the Magha months of January or February.
India is a diverse country where a festival is celebrated in different ways depending on the regions respectively. So on Basant Panchami too, people have their own ways of ushering in the spring with much gusto.
On this day, goddess Saraswati is revered and invoked by the devotees. Her blessings are sought for a better life where knowledge, wisdom etc are prayed for in abundance.
Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge, arts, music, wisdom and performing arts. Many bhakts throng Saraswati temples, play music and chant her name the whole day. It also happens to be the day when parents introduce letters to their children. They initiate them into writing letters of alphabet or study together. This is also known as Akshar Abhyasam or Vidyaarambham (meaning initiation of education).
It is believed that Saraswati Maa's vaahan (vehicle) - swan - is blessed with a distinct ability to separate water from milk. Thus it teaches humans to differentiate between the good and the bad.
Another belief is that the day is marked as dedicated to god Kama—the Hindu deity of love. It is celebrated by remembering the loved one particularly one's partner or special friend and spring flowers play a significant role. The day is connected with the god of love. Several people wear yellow clothes and eat yellow rice to emulate the yellow mustard (sarson) flower fields, or play by flying kites.
Basant Panchami also marks the start of preparation for Holika bonfire and Holi, which occurs forty days later.
Interestingly, renowned politician-cum-educationalist Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya laid the foundation of 'Banaras Hindu University' way back in 1916, on this very day. Since then the festival is considered fortunate to inaugurate such educational institutes.
Here's wishing everyone a happy Saraswati Puja!