Vasanth Panchami, or Basant Panjami, or Saraswati Jayanti is a popular festival in North India on which people welcome the blossoming of the nature after a harsh winter i.e; the arrival of the spring season is celebrated. It is purely a festival of nature and there is no major scriptural story associated with it as is the case of most Hindu festivals. ‘Basant’ or ‘Vasant’ means spring and ‘Panchami’ is the fifth day after Amavasi in Magh month in the Shukla Paksha. A puja is performed in North and Eastern parts of India on the day.
Yellow colour, which is a symbol of prosperity and love, is given importance on the day. It also signifies the ripening of fruits and crops. The mustard fields in North India blooms during this season giving a yellow coat to nature. The Deities in temples and houses are decorated with yellow coloured clothes. Similarly, yellow colored food, sweets and fruits are distributed to friends, neighbors and relatives. Yellow sweet rice is cooked and distributed on the day.
On the day, prayers are offered to the Goddess of Knowledge- “Goddess Saraswati”, the Sun God- “Lord Surya” , the holy river Ganges- “Mother Ganga” and the Mother Earth- “Bhu Devi”. The worship of elements in nature is acknowledging the various forms of nature, which sustains human beings, plants and animals. Similarly, people pay homage to the ancestors on the day and Pitru Tarpan is also performed by some communities. This puja is of great significance in Nepal, Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand, Tripura and Assam. Freshly made murtis of Goddess Saraswati are prepared on the day. Vasanth Panchami is also an important bathing day during the Magh Mela. Kite flying is a major activity during the period in many parts of the region.
Toddlers are initiated into the world of letters on the day. Young children would sit in the lap of the priest or elders; hold a piece of chalk in his fingers and with the Goddess as witness writes at least one alphabet in local language under the guidance of the elder or priest. People place their books, articles, instruments of music and arts before the goddess and seek their blessings and are not used in the day. The active participates of the Saraswati Puja are school children, college goers, artists, musicians, teachers and all those people directly or indirectly associated with letters and music.
The items used for the Saraswati puja in are the ‘kul’ or plums which are distributed as Prasad. The flower known as the ‘palash’ and mangoes flower are the basic requirement. The children observe fast and break the fast by chewing these flowers.
This year Vasanth Panchami is on 28th January.