Today (Feb 1) is Basant Panchami and here are 10 quick facts you need to know about the day when we evoke Devi Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning:
1. The seasonal spring festival of Basant Panchami, which is observed on the fifth day of Hindu month “Magha”, is also called Shree Panchami when it comes to celebrating Saraswati Puja.
2. Basant Panchami is observed in different ways across India. It is celebrated at Sufi shrines as Sufi Basant, while Punjab hosts the Basant Festival of Kites as a part of Sikh festival on this day.
3. It is celebrated as a harvest festival and the birthday of Deo-Surya God in Bihar.
4. In ancient Hindu scriptures, this festival is associated with Shringara Rasa (the emotion of romance) that involves Kamadeva, the God of love and desire, his wife Rati and his friend Basant (spring personified).
5. Basant Panchami is hugely popular as Saraswati Puja. On this day first-time learners are initiated to education (the ritual is known Akshar-Abhyasam or Vidya-Arambham).
The Goddess is worshiped at all educational institutions. Students and those associated with education, art or culture pray to Saraswati for eternal knowledge and enlightenment.
6. People generally wear yellow on this day as the colour is associated with spring and Saraswati.
7. Yellow sweets are distributed as prasadam (religious offering to the Goddess).
8. Basant Panchami is the beginning of the spring festive cycle that end with the celebration of Holi.
9. It is on Basant Panchami that a wooden log with a figure of demoness Holika, who was burnt to death with the help of Lord Vishnu as per the scriptures, is placed at the public place and over the next 40 days, devotees add twigs, hay and other combustible materials to create the pyre for “Holika dahan” (burning of Holika) on the previous day of Holi that signifies triumph of good over evil.
10. As per historical evidences, celebration of Basant Panchami by Muslims is dated back to the 12th century AD.
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.