Celebrated every year on the fifth day of the Lunar month of Magha, Vasant Panchami marks the beginning of the spring season and is celebrated with great fervor across the country. It is the first of the two Spring Festivals, the other being Holi. This year, Vasant Panchami falls on the 5th of February.
Amongst the various traditions and rituals practiced on this day, conducting Saraswati Puja is considered especially auspicious.
Saraswati is the Goddess of learning and wisdom in Indian Mythology. The festival of Vasant Panchami is celebrated to venerate and revere the Goddess who blesses her worshippers with intellect and wisdom. Kalidasa, regarded as the greatest Indian writer, is believed to have acquired much of his skills and knowledge due to the blessings of Goddess Saraswati.
According to legends, Kalidasa was deceitfully married to an intelligent and learned princess, Vidyawati who scorned Kalidasa for not being as wise and knowledgeable as her. This saddened Kalidasa who decided to end his life but was saved by Goddess Saraswati who came to his rescue and instilled in him the resolve to acquire knowledge. This was the beginning of Kalidasa's journey to becoming one of the most celebrated writers in Indian history.
In much of the Northern and Eastern parts of India, Vasant Panchami is dedicated to the Goddess Saraswati. Pushpanjalis are offered by students who partake in the Puja to enhance their intellect. Students place their books and other paraphernalia near the idol of Goddess Saraswati in order to seek her blessings. Special yellow sweets are prepared and yellow clothes are worn. Akshar-Abhyasam in which young children are given their first lesson in education is also an important part of the festival.
Yellow is considered an auspicious color in Hinduism. However, there is another reason for yellow being the preferred color on Vasant Panchami. The yellow mustard flowers are the first to bloom in the spring season. Another important color that dominates the celebrations is white, the color of purity and virtue. It is also believed to be Goddess Saraswati's favorite color.
While flying kites and worshiping Goddess Saraswati is quite common during Vasant Panchami, there is a tale that has been obscured by other celebrations over the years, but is significant nonetheless.
Kamadeva, the Indian equivalent of Cupid is an important Hindu Demi-God. He is often represented as a young man with wings and green skin, wielding a bow and arrow. The bow is crafted out of sugarcane and his arrow is adorned with five different kinds of flowers. The Matsya Purana tells the tale of Kamadeva's sacrifice. A grief-ridden Lord Shiva forsakes his responsibilities and starts meditating after the death of his consort, Sati. Worried, the Devtas sought the help of Kamadeva, the God of love and desire to end Shiva's meditation. Kamadeva was successful in awakening Lord Shiva; however, infuriated by Kamadeva's audacity, Shiva burned him to ashes. A distraught Rati, the consort of Kamadeva went to Lord Shiva and pleaded him to bring her husband back. Rati's penance lasted 40 days and on the 40th day, Lord Shiva granted her wish and brought Kamadeva to life, but only as an emotion. Vasant Panchami celebrates the eternal bond between Kamadeva and Rati and restates the fact that if your love is strong it will surely overcome all odds. Also, many believe Vasant Panchami to be the most auspicious day for solemnizing marriages.
Vasant Panchami (Saraswati Puja) Muhurat - 7:15 am to 12:34 pm on 5th Febuary 2022
By - Team Astroyogi