Vasant Panchami, celebrated every year in the month of Magh, is a festival of religious, seasonal and social significance. It also marks the end of the winter season and beginning of the spring. The significance of the day lies in the worship of Goddess Saraswati who is known as a symbol of wisdom.
People dress in yellow and they offer yellow flowers to gods and goddesses. They also prepare and feast on a special pastry called Kesar Halwa which is made from flour, sugar, nuts, and cardamom powder. This dish also includes saffron strands, which gives it a vibrant yellow colour and mild fragrance During the Vasant Panchami festival, crops fields are filled with color yellow, as the yellow mustard flowers bloom at this time of the year. Pens, notebooks, and pencils are placed near the goddess Saraswati Devi’s feet to be blessed.
The Goddess Saraswati is the goddess of intellect and learning. She has four hands which symbolize ego, intellect, alertness and mind. She carries a lotus and scriptures in two of her hands and she plays music on Veena (an instrument similar to sitar) with her other hands. She rides on a white swan. Her white dress is a symbol for purity. Her swan signifies that people should have the ability to discern the good from the bed. Goddess Saraswati is well-versed in the experience of truth. When the goddess Saraswati is seen sitting on a peacock, it is a reminder that a strong ego can be held back by wisdom.
Goddess Saraswati is also known as Bharati (eloquence), Shatrupa (existence), Vedmata (mother of the Vedas), Brahmi, Sharda, Vageshwari and Putkari. She is also known as the goddess of speech or eloquences. In all, Saraswati is goddess of knowledge, language, music and all arts.
Another tradition associated with Vasant Panchami is that of initiating studies in the young. Young children often begin learning on this day. Sweets with a yellow hue are also distributed on this day and people can also be seen donating books and other study material to the poor.
We all need knowledge in our life. Knowledge is a supreme power.
There is a beautiful shloka in Neeti Shastra---- vidya naam narasya rupmadhikam prachchhannaguptam dham…… That means Vidya (knowledge or education) is a hidden stash of treasure which can neither be lost nor stolen by anyone. A bag of money can be stolen or destroyed due to many reasons, but knowledge is ingrained in oneself. The more knowledge one shares, the more it multiplies. Education and knowledge changes a person. It moulds and shapes him to have finesse and poise. Also, the way one conducts himself, at all times, is a result of his vidya, which gives him discipline and humility.
Happy Vasant Panchami!- Prabhakar Purandare