There’s a slight warmth in the air, colourful flowers and lush green grass welcome you. The sweet aroma of the blossoming flowers marks the arrival of spring and a festival of knowledge and divine love that is Vasant Panchami. This year, it falls on January 22.
History behind Vasant Panchami
The celebration of Vasant Panchami can be traced back to Dwapara yuga. As per the authority of scriptures like Srimad Bhagwatam and other Vaishnava scriptures, the transcendental Vasant ras lila took place on this night on the Govardhan hill. The place came to be known as Chandra sarovar. It is also mentioned that Lord Chandradev stood still for one night of Brahma to take darshan of this divine dance of Sri Krishna and his beloved gopis, headed by Srimati Radharani. As per the authority of Brahma Samhita (5.24),
uvāca puratas tasmai
tasya divyā sarasvatī
he gopī-jana ity api
vallabhāya priyā vahner
mantram te dāsyati priyam
Translation: The goddess of learning Saraswati, the divine consort of the Supreme Lord, said thus to Brahma who saw nothing but gloom in all directions, After Lord Brahma was guided by Devi Saraswati, he began to meditate and gain spiritual insights.
For thousands of years and as per the traditions and customs prevalent, people have been celebrating this day by observing a fast, decorating the deity of Saraswati with garlands and white clothes and offering her yellow items. The term Vasant Panchami is a misnomer since Vasant Panchami has no relation with Vasant ritu. It falls in the month of Magha, which is a month of Shishir ritu but since the sun has gone in the northern hemisphere, there is warmth which is a symbol of spring season.
Customs and traditions
This festival marks the veneration of Lord Krishna and Devi Saraswati. People ask the goddess to grant them boon for wisdom and knowledge. Primarily known as the festival of students, poets, musicians and teachers, everyone bows down before her and prays to her to grant them right guidance and help them excel in the field of education.
In North India, people generally observe a fast on this day. They wear yellow garments and cook yellow food items, loaded with turmeric and saffron. Deities of Mother Saraswati are decorated and people offer her prayers. People in Punjab celebrate by flying kites – they call it Dor and Guddi festival. In Central India, the newly wedded couples dress themselves in yellow and then visit a temple and offer first Vasant Panchami puja. In areas like Bali and Indonesia, people dress up in their finest clothes and offer good food to their teachers.
In Eastern lndia, specifically West Bengal, people observe “Hathe Khori” i.e. they ask their children to learn alphabets and write it down. In ancient times, the sanskar of Vidya aarambha was usually performed on this day. The student were admitted to gurukuls and they used to learn their first lesson from their teacher on this day.
During Vasant Panchami, students generally clean their book shelves and schools clean their libraries and organise a small puja where they pray to the goddess and ask her to help them score well for the upcoming annual exams.