Basant Panchami: Festival of knowledge, love & blossoms

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Sunil Vaid
In India, festivals are all about togetherness and harmony. With the onset of the spring season, its time to celebrate the festival of Basant Panchami. Spring is a beautiful reminder of how beautiful change can truly be. After the cold and dark days of winter, the spring season brings new life and fresh hopes to the world. The sun shines, the days get warm, green shoots and bright flowers peep out from soil, trees blossom, and new lambs and chicks are born. Spring is full of fragrance and roses. The sweet smell of spring is fascinating. It’s such a refreshing time! The warm sun shine feels so good on our skin, and melts away our winter blues.
Basant Panchami is the festival to welcome the spring season, Pre dominantly, celebrated in eastern parts of India as Saraswati Puja, particularly in west Bengal and Bihar; however in North India, especially in Punjab, Basant Panchami is celebrated as a Festival of Kites’, whereas in Rajasthan wearing Jasmine garland to celebrate this festival is a part of rituals.
According to Hindu mythology, Panchami marks the beginning of the spring season. As per Hindu calendar, it falls on the fifth day of the Magha maas(month). According to Hindu mythology, it is believed that Bhagwan Brahma created the universe on this day. Apart from that, the reason why Saraswati Puja is celebrated in some parts of the country is because it was believed that on this day, Goddess Saraswati was born who is said to be deity of knowledge, music & art and people worship her to achieve wisdom. Hence people are often seen celebrating Saraswati Puja on Basant Panchami.
The festival is also celebrated in educational institutions. It is said that Goddess Saraswati bestows on her devotees lots of wisdom, learning and knowledge as the Goddess is considered to be epitome of wisdom. Students and teachers wear new clothes, offer prayers to the Goddess of knowledge and various programmes of songs and dances are organised to please the Goddess.
As per another Basant Panchami story, Bhagwan Ram ate half-tasted Jujubes (Ber) of Mata Shabri on Basant Panchami. The day of Basant Panchami is considered the beginning of life. It is the day of arrival of happiness. The season of spring is the season of rebirth and renewal. In this season, fresh flowers and fields of yellow mustard charm everyone’s heart.
The significance of Basant Panchami is big in Hindu culture. The day is considered extremely auspicious to start new work, get married or perform Graha Pravesh. Goddess Saraswati symbolises 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 crops, which Hindus associate with Goddess Saraswati’s favourite colour. People dress in yellow sarees or shirts or accessories, share yellow-coloured snacks and sweets. Some add saffron to their rice and then eat yellow cooked rice as a part of an elaborate feast. Traditionally, in Punjab, Maake ki Roti and Sarson ka Saag are savoured. The idols of Maa Sarawati, are immersed in holy water of Ganga with serenity in Bihar and Bengal.
Basant Panchami is the time when people start giving lessons on education to their children. This custom is referred to as Vidyarambham or Aksharabhyasam. It is also time for families to gather and spend the days flying kites and enjoying the beauty of nature in the spring season. Various competitions like flower-arrangement, kite flying, instant-nutritious recipe and healthy baby contests are organised on the occasion. The markets are flooded with kites, which are quite popular during the festivities. Special kites, shaped like lanterns, lamps with popular celebrity faces make the festival more interesting. Further, chirping of birds, colourful kites in the sky, balloons and children wearing colourful clothes give ambience an alluring look.
Basant is the season of new beginnings. Fresh birds bloom, animals awaken and the earth seems coming to life again. Farmers and gardeneners plant their seeds and temperatures slowly rise.
This festival is celebrated across the lines of religion, culture and ethnicity. It is also celebrated because of its health benefits as it is associated with the arrival of spring which is mostly considered as a healthy season in the year.

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