The festival of Basanta Panchami heralds the onset of the spring season, entitled as the king of all seasons. It is the time when everything in nature seems quite balanced and graceful. During Spring, all five fundamental elements– air, water, soil, fire, and space–are balanced; the weather is neither too hot nor too cold. When we think of the spring, it is obvious that we imagine the yellow-colored mustard fields and birds singing. Nature spreads its sweetness in air and beauty is in sight everywhere.
It is also the day that marks the birthday of Goddess Saraswati. People also celebrate it as Shree Panchami or Saraswati pooja in Nepal. According to the lunar month, it is celebrated every year on the fifth day of the Magh Shukla Paksha (or bright fortnight). People observe this festival with an enormous passion and involvement. Like every other Hindu festival, Basanta Panchami also carries a cultural significance and interesting anecdotes.
The picture of Goddess Saraswati
Basanta Panchami signifies the beginning of profound creation. It is believed that during the beginning of the universe, there was only confusion and chaos. It lacked a system or order. And soon after Sawaswati’s birth, everything began to take shape as Brahma created the world with Saraswati as his wisdom.
Lord Brahma (Hindu deity), regarded as the creator, knew that only knowledge would bring about order to the chaotic universe. Thus, emerged from his mouth, the divine figure of Saraswati dressed in white, holding a veena on one hand and holy books on the other. For this reason, Saraswati is also regarded as the “manasputri” of Brahma.
In pictures and idols, as we can see, Saraswati sits on a white Lotus. This depiction symbolizes Saraswati as the Goddess of purity, knowledge, and truth. She is the personification of wisdom and purity. She is imagined as having four arms that symbolize the four heads of Brahma, each of which represents manas (mind), buddhi (intellect), chitta (imagination), and andahamkar (self-conscious).
How we observe Basanta Panchami
On the auspicious day of Basanta Panchami, people offer prayers to Goddess Saraswati to receive her grace and blessings. The day of Basanta Panchami is an auspicious day to begin new activities; particularly related to creative fields and those that require special knowledge and wisdom. People involved in creative pursuits like art and music. Especially, students worship Goddess Saraswati and try seeking her grace and blessings.
The yellow color is predominantly used in this day as it signifies the flourishing colors of spring. People wear yellow clothes and eat yellow foods like saffron rice. They also decorate their homes with yellow flowers. Cleaning the books and bookcases on this day is an established custom as a sign of honoring the knowledge books contain within them.
On this occasion of Basanta Panchami, people offer prayers and foods to the Goddess of knowledge. The day is very important for new learners. In Nepal, we see parents making their children learn and write the first letter on this day as it is considered an auspicious day to lay the foundation on the education of reading and writing.
In several places in Nepal, educational institutions organize pujas and offer prayers to the goodness of knowledge Saraswati. This day has great significance among the institutional sectors.