Vasant Panchami, also called Sarasvati Puja in honor of the Goddess Saraswati, is a festival that marks the preparation for the arrival of spring. Vasant Panchami also marks the start of preparation for Holika and Holi, which take place forty days later. The Vasant Utsava (festival) on Panchami is celebrated forty days before spring, because any season’s transition period is 40 days, and after that, the season comes into full bloom.
Vasant Panchami is celebrated every year on the fifth day of the bright half of the Hindu lunisolar calendar month of Magha, which typically falls in late January or February. Spring is known as the “King of all Seasons”, so the festival commences forty days in advance. It is generally winter-like in northern India, and more spring-like in central and western parts of India on Vasant Panchami, which gives credence to the idea that spring is actually in full bloom 40 days after the Vasant Panchami day.
Vasant Panchami is a festival that marks the beginning of preparations for spring season. It is celebrated by people in various ways depending on the region. Vasant Panchami also marks the start of preparation for Holika and Holi, which occur forty days later. For many Hindus, Vasant Panchami is the festival dedicated to Goddess Saraswati who is the goddess of knowledge, language, music and all arts. She symbolizes creative energy and power in all its form, including longing and love. The season and festival also celebrate the agricultural fields’ ripening with yellow flowers of mustard crop, which we associate with Saraswati’s favorite color. People dress in yellow saris or shirts or accessories, share yellow-colored snacks and sweets. Some add saffron to their rice and then eat yellow cooked rice as a part of an elaborate feast.
Many families mark this day by sitting with babies and young children, encouraging their children to write their first words with their fingers, and some study or create music together. The day before Vasant Panchami, Saraswati’s temples are filled with food so that she can join the celebrants in the traditional feasting the following morning. In temples and educational institutions, statues of Saraswati are dressed in yellow and worshiped. Many educational institutions arrange special prayers or Pujas in the to seek the blessing of the Goddess. Poetic and musical gatherings are held in some communities in reverence for Saraswati.
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