The festival of Saraswati Puja
Saraswati Puja or Vasant Panchami is the festival of scholars. On this day, goddess Saraswati is worshipped. She is considered to be the goddess of knowledge, art and music.
She holds the veena ( a musical instrument) and also referred as Veena Vadini. This festival in india follows the another important festival – Makar Sankranti.
Vasant Panchami marks the onset of spring season. It is celebrated every year on the fifth day of the Indian month of Magh. In southern part of India, this festival falls on navaratri. This festival is followed by another major festival – Holi.
It is believed that on this day goddess Saraswati was born on this day. Saraswati is the hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts and science. She is the companion of Brahma, also revered as his Shakti (power). It was with her knowledge, that Brahma created the universe.This festival is celebrated in temples, homes schools, colleges and educational institutions. Goddess Sarawati’s favourite colour is white. She is seen as the serene Goddess wearing a crescent moon on her brow riding a swan or seated on a lotus flower.
Vasant Panchami is the most auspicious day to begin study. Educational institutions conduct special prayer for Saraswati on this day. It is a great day to inaugurate educational institutes and new schools. Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya who founded the Banaras hindu university on the auspicious occasion of Vasant Panchami.
There is also a custom of ancestor worship, known as ‘Pitri-Tarpan’ in many parts of India during Vasant Panchami.
Regional influences on Saraswati Puja
Saraswati Puja in Eastern India
In the eastern part of India—Tripura, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihār and Assam,—Saraswati Puja is celebrated in the Magha month (January–February). It coincides with Vasant Panchami or Shree Panchami, i.e., the fifth day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Magha. People place books near the goddess’ statue or picture and worship the goddess. Book reading is not allowed on this day.
Saraswati Puja in South India
In the southern states of India, Saraswati Puja is conducted during the Navaratri. Navaratri literally means “nine nights”, but the actual celebrations continue during the 10th day, which is considered as Vijaya Dashami or the Victorious Tenth Day. Navaratri starts with the new-moon day of the bright fortnight of the Sharad Ritu (Sharad Season of the six seasons of India) during September–October. The festival celebrates the power of the feminine aspect of divinity or shakti. The last two or three days are dedicated to Goddess Saraswati in South India.