Basant Panchami Festival
Basant Panchami has a specific meaning, Basant means Spring, whereas Panchami means the fifth day of the spring. It falls on Panchami – on the Waxing Moon. The festival lies in the month of January-February.
The young girls dressed in the diverse shades of yellow magnify the splendor of nature. Kite flying, a popular sport in India, is associated with the Basant Panchami day. It is a day for young crowd – no routine work, no studies, only merry making.
¤ The Celebrations
The festival is celebrated with full vivacity and festivity to mark the end of the winters. It is one of the first festivals of the Year and is celebrated all over India. The yellow color has great significance, people wear yellow clothes, offer yellow flowers in worship and put a yellow, turmeric tilak on their forehead. They visit temples and offer prayers to various gods. At home, kesar halva, also yellow in color, is prepared. The yellow flowers of mustard crop covers the entire field in such a way that it seems as if gold is spread over the land glittering with the rays of the sun.
¤ Worship Goddess-Sarasvati
The day of Basant Panchami is dedicated to Goddess Sarasvati. Sarasvati is the goddess of learning who bequeaths the greatest wealth to humanity, the wealth of knowledge. Hindu mythology depicts Sarasvati as a pristine lady bedecked with white attire, white flowers and white pearls, sitting on a white lotus, which blooms in a wide stretch of water. The Goddess also holds Veena, a string-instrument, like Sitar, for playing music. The prayer of Sarasvati finally concludes as, “Oh Mother Sarasvati remove the darkness (ignorance) of my mind and bless me with the eternal knowledge.”
The “Prasadam” for the Goddess at the time of Basant Panchami celebrations varies from community to community. Some offers “Ber”/- a fruit, that is found in abundance in Northern and Eastern India, or “Sangari”- a kind of bean that grows on the roots of the radish plant.
¤ The Rituals Performed
The mythological history of Sarasvati associates her with the holy rituals performed on the banks of the river Sarasvati. She is worshipped as a goddess of speech, attributed to the formation of (words), invention of Sanskrit language and composition of hymns.
¤ Sarasvati –A Water Deity
The Vedas also describes Sarasvati as a water deity. The River Goddess –Sarasvat, according to popular belief originated from the Himalayas, Goddess in the form of river meander towards southeast of India, finally rendezvous with the River Ganges at Prayag and River Yamuna. Hence the place is called Triveni. In due time this course of water petered away.