Basant Panchami (Vasant Panchami) is the spring festival. In Samskrit, Basant means Spring (season) and Panchami means fifth day. As the name indicates, this festival falls on the fifth day of the Hindu month Magh (February) which is the beginning of the spring season. Basant Panchami is known by several names such as Sreepanchami, Vasant Panchami or Saraswati Puja. Basant Panchami festival is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and wisdom. She is considered as feminine counterpart of Lord Brahma. Hindu Dharma, being more a way of life rather than a religion, is demure to the special significance of seasons in our lives through religious festivals. Basant Panchami (Vasant Panchami) signifies the beginning of spring season. Vasant is the season when nature is at its beautiful and bountiful best. Flowers are in full bloom and trees sprout new shoots. Basant (Vasant) is a season when nature regenerates and every thing is fresh and new. New life is evident in the woods and fields. Wheat and other crops enliven with new life and vitality. Mustard fields turn into a heady mix of yellow and greenas the blossoms add color, poetry and romance to life. Indeed, yellow colour has special importance on this day.
Another name of this festival is Vasantotsav (Vasant + Utsav (festival)). In some parts of Bharat, it is also called as Basant (not Vasant) Panchami. The origin of Basant Panchami festival may be traced as far back as ancient times. Basant Panchami festival is celebrated grandly throughout Bharat in different ways. With the onset of spring, people gear themselves for celebrations. The people wear yellow dresses. The men and boys wear yellow turbans or yellow shirts and the women and girls yellow chunries or duppattas. They get together and erect a special dias for this day. They hold puja and community lunch there. Kite flying is popular on this day. As the festival comes close, kite makers get busy in making kites. Different colors and sizes of kites start flying in the open and clear blue sky.In some traditional homes sweet dishes are exchanged with relatives and friends.
Celebrations and Customs
People buy new clothes for the occasion and make some yummy and mouthwatering sweets. In Haryana, sweet yellow rice, flavored with saffron, is prepared for Basant Panchami. A dash of saffron is added to the sweet dishes to get a yellow tinge. Kesari halwa and Kesari sweet rice are the favorites in Northern Bharat. Many people go to temple to offer halwa or sweet rice as a prasad to the God. People visit the temple, prepare sweets and spend time with the family. Some people offer “Ber”, a fruit as Prasad for the event. Some people offer “Sangari”- a kind of bean that grows on the roots of the radish plant.
Some people feed Brahmanas on this day. Pitri-Tarpan (ancestor worship) is done on this day. The god of love (Kamdev) is also worshipped on this day.
Goddess Saraswati and Basant Panchami
It is believed that on this day goddess Saraswati was born. Hindus celebrate Basant Panchami (Vasant Panchami) with great fervor in temples, homes and even schools and colleges. Maa 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 adorning white and yellow garments. Maa Saraswati is offered sweets which are given away as ‘prasad’ to all people attending the ritual worship.Flowers and wild berries are offered to the goddess and students place their books before the deity . An elaborate puja, with sandalwood, ghee, joss sticks, and incense is done to the sound of shlokas, conch shells, and drums. Children are taught their first words on this day (as an auspicious beginning to learning) Schools, colleges etc (places of learning) organise special worship of Saraswati. Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya laid the foundations of Kashi Hindu Vishwa Vidyalaya on Basant Panchami. This has become a world famous top class academic institution.Vasant is associated with freshness and a new beginning in all spheres of life. Basant Panchami (Vasant Panchami) is therefore a festival full of religious, seasonal and social significance and is celebrated by Hindu people all over the world with new sense of optimism. For gaining Vidhya (wisdom) students are taught to dedicate mantras and Invocation to goddess in schools.
Mantras of goddess Saraswati
Saraswati Mya Drishta | Veena Pustak Dharinee
Hans Vahan Sanhukta |Vidhya Danam Karotu Mei
Yaa Kundetu Tushar Har Dhawla
Yaa Shubra Vastra Vrita
Yaa Veena Vardand Mandit Kara
Yaa Shwet Padhyasana’
Om Vaak deviyai chah Vidhmahe
Virinji Pathniyai chah Dheemahe
Thanno Vani Prachodayath
Not only students or learners can chant Mantras of goddess Saraswati, but anyone can dedicate the above mentioned invocation to get her immense benisons. This way, Devi Saraswati will become elate and shower her blessings on you.
Auspicious occasions like Basant Panchami (Vasant Panchami) offer a chance for family members to come for get-together in pooja ghar at home and devote their spiritual attention towards worshiping goddess Saraswati.
Basant Panchami (Vasant Panchami) is a festival that makes people felicitous and spiritual. We pray to almighty, each year Vasant Panchami blesses you in ways more than one.