Basant Panchami & Spring Again

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‘Basant Panchami’ is a very popular festival in India celebrating the approaching of the coming spring. Also known as Shree Panchami, Basant or Vasant means Spring and this special event falls on the fifth day of the Indian month of Magh of the spring season. Of particular significance is the worship of Goddess Saraswati – the deity of learning, music and wisdom.  As one of the powerful triumvirate Goddesses along with Durga and Laxmi, children are especially encouraged to pay obeisance to Saraswati – Goddess of Learning on this day.

Many schools, colleges and institutions of learning therefore celebrate Vasant Panchami with great fervor. Besides being the harbinger of clement times ahead the festival is enjoyed by people across the land in their own diverse ways. Apart from being celebrated in India it is also enthusiastically fêted in neighboring countries including Pakistan, Nepal as also in Indonesia and Malaysia! The festival is celebrated in various ways depending on the region.

The reverence offered to goddess Saraswati has folks visiting temples or performing sacred rituals in their shrines at home. Many enjoy the tradition of playing traditional music too. An essential ritual awaited for this occasion is when parents invite a sage or pundit to initiate their little ones into learning to write letters of the alphabet. It is commonly known as ‘Patti Pooja’ that is observed on this day.

The young ones mark out the day as a celebration to Lord Kama – the deity of love. It is said to be the equivalent of Valentine’s Day that has eager ones offering their spouses or special loved ones with offerings of flowers of the season. Market places are flooded with traditional bouquets of marigold flowers and mango leaves festooned in small clay pots. Also people largely wear yellow clothes on this day turning the outdoors a riot of yellow colors. In rural areas the mustard fields naturally turn the ambience in hues of ochre and yellow.

Often, food too takes on yellow and saffron colors. Women prepare traditional yellow curries, yellow vegetables and in particular sweet yellow rice to emulate the predominantly yellow mustard flowers growing abundantly everywhere on all sides around them. Children also like to fly kites and are keen to buy yellow kites. In all senses it’s a day that celebrates the color yellow. It is the day that marks the turn in season and generally the harsh winters in northern parts of the country give way to softer weather whereas in central and western parts it is spring already.

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