We usually associate the onset of spring season with the celebration of Holi. However, Basant Panchami which falls on the fifth day of the Hindu month of Magh, heralds the arrival of the spring season. It is the time when the mustard fields bloom with beautiful yellow flowers. Hence, yellow is the theme color for Basant Panchami. Basant Panchami is not commonly celebrated as a household or public event, so I would like to share some of the traditions and legends associated with it.
1. Saraswati Puja
Along with the welcoming of spring season, this day is celebrated as the birthday of Goddess Saraswati. She gifted the world with knowledge, wisdom, and sound & music. So, Saraswati Puja is done on this day. The legend of the birth if Goddess Saraswati goes like this. Lord Brahma created universe, but he was upset, as all his creation was quiet and still. There was no sound and music in the universe. Lord Brahma became sad and went to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu suggested Brahma that Goddess Saraswati will help him. So, Lord Brahma evoked Goddess Saraswati. She gave life to Brahmas creation by her Veena (Lute). When she started playing the Veena, the first letter that came out was 'Sa'. This alphabet is the first one among the seven musical notes (seven Swara). This way the soundless universe got sound. Lord Brahma became happy with this and he named Saraswati as Vageshwari. She holds Veena in her hand; hence, she is also called 'Veenapani. She also symbolizes calmness and serenity.
It is believed to be a good time for ‘VidyarambhSanskar' or beginning of any new learning.
2. Method of Saraswati Puja
To perform the puja, a Kalasha is established. After worshipping Ganesh, the Sun, Vishnu and Shiva, Saraswati is worshipped. Vermillion and garlands are offered to her before starting Saraswati Puja. Gulaal (red color powder) is offered in her feet. While performing Saraswati Puja, yellow flowers and seasonal fruits are offered as Prasad.
Every Indian festival has typical delicacies associated with it. On the occasion of Basant Panchami, sweet rice porridge (Kheer) is offered to the Goddess Saraswati. The rice is cooked by mixing saffron, dry fruits, & sugar. In Bihar, people prepare Bundi of yellow and saffron color and offer it to Goddess Saraswati. In Uttar Pradesh, people eat yellow rice and sweets in meal. In Punjab, people cherish the delicious taste of sweet yellow rice, along with chapattis of corn and mustard vegetable (Makke Di Roti, Sarson Da Saag).
4. Kite Flying Festival
Apart from Sarawati Puja, this day is also celebrated by flying colorful kites to raise the zest and zeal of this day.There are various regions (especially Punjab) that have kite flying competitions. A person who cuts the maximum number of kites in this competition is declared as the winner.
5. Ancient Customs
In ancient Indian literature, Basant Panchami is associated with Shringara Rasam and the festival was celebrated to honor Kamadeva, his wife Rati, and his friend Vasant (the personification of spring). Dancing girls and other celebrants danced on the beats of dhol. New clothes were designed for the celebrations. The day was marked by singing love songs. Today this is not practiced, and the festival is oriented toward Saraswati Puja.
This year Basant Panchami falls on 12th February. So, welcome this spring season with your tiny tot in your own style and share with us how you did this.