Goddess Saraswati who is also believed to be a powerful river is known as the Goddess of ‘Vidya’, i.e. knowledge or wisdom.
According to Bramhavaivarta Purana, at the end of a Kalpa (the four great epochs of time or era or Yugas in Hinduism: Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and Kali Yuga), Rudra (one of the many forms of Lord Shiva), demolishes everything on planet Earth. Then Brahma starts meditating and in His Satwaguna (the attribute of purity and harmony), takes the form of Saraswati. His attraction towards “Jnana,” or knowledge is so immense that it compels Him to ask Goddess Saraswati to sit on all poets’ tongues so that they are able to conjure a life of magnificence and beauty through their poems.
Unable to sit on all poet’s tongue, Saraswati chose one poet, Valmiki, (author of the epic story, Ramayana), who became the Adikavi or the first poet who set the standards of opulence, integrity and robust characteristics as the standard to which all men and women should learn from and strive to achieve. Valmiki is to date, unrivalled in all aspects of poetry, deliverance and composition of story-telling as we know it.
The word ‘Saras,’ in the Vedas means water. In the age of the Rigveda, Saraswati was worshipped both as a river and a goddess. In this particular text, the Sindhu river was called Saraswati where saints would gather to perform Yajna, chant shlokas, mantras and sing hymns. Thus, Naadshalini (sound) river Saraswati became the ‘Veenabaradmanditabhuja,’ (the one who carries the Veena or the musical instrument).
Marking the preparation for the arrival of spring, Basant Panchami or Vasant Panchami is an auspicious festival of the Hindus which is celebrated with great pomp across India on the fifth day (Panchami Tithi) of the Hindu month of Magha, Shukla Paksha.
It is also called Sri Panchami in the South and is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, the wife of Brahma.
Hindu worshippers believe that without Saraswati, the world would be shrouded in ignorance, as She represents enlightenment, intelligence, creativity and brilliance to create and manifest all tangible and intangible aspects of living. Hence, Saraswati is worshipped as the iconic celebration of the agricultural fields’ throughout India as the yellow flowers of the mustard crop comes to its ripened state, indicating readiness of abundance and proliferation.
The colour ‘yellow,’ or ‘basanti,’ is believed to be Saraswati’s favourite colour and all celebrations pertaining to Goddess Saraswati revolves around every shade of yellow from decorations to food to attires.
This year Vasant Panchami shall be observed on February 16, 2021. The Panchami Tithi shall start at 5.36 am on February 16 and will continue till 7.46 am on February 17. Although the entire day is considered as being auspicious, the right time for doing the puja is in the afternoon.
SIGNIFICANCE OF VASANT PANCHAMI
Spring is considered to be the ‘King of all seasons,’ and springtime is not only a symbol of prosperity but also considered extremely auspicious to start new ventures, get married or perform house warming ceremonies (griha pravesh). It is also believed to be the day when Saraswati was born and so the day is sometimes referred to as Saraswati Jayanti where people worship Her to seek Her blessings to bestow them with wisdom.
Saraswati is depicted as wearing a white saree, seated on a white lotus symbolising truth and purity and holding a ‘veena’ (musical instrument) as She rides a white swan or ‘hamsa’.
This festival marks the beginning of Spring season in India with entire fields of mustard flowers blooming in beds of yellow where everything comes ablaze with action.
The colour yellow is also associated with the Solar Plexus chakra and the colour of gold, indicating that this is a time of reaping the rewards of our hard labour by recognising our potential to come into our blossomed state, while harvesting the by-products of our sacred wisdom, delivering us at the cusp of our life’s path, at the doorstep of our spiritual ascension.
In lieu of the pandemic, this year’s Vasant Panchami springs forth the relentless will of life to persist to survive in the face of adversities…
May you be blessed with the wisdom to see and to live the life of your dreams.
SUJATA NANDY WORLD GURUKUL