Vasant Panchami or Basant Panchami refers to the religious Hindu festival of Saraswati Puja or Shree Panchami. It is a seasonal spring festival that is observed in many regions of India. It is celebrated as the Basant Festival of Kites in Punjab region; observed in Gurdwaras as a Sikh festival, the birthday of the Sun God in Bihar and as a harvest festival in many regions.
Vasant Panchami indicates the beginning of spring and is celebrated with great joy. Vasant Panchami is celebrated on the fifth day of Magh month. Purvahna Kala, the time between the sunrise and the midday decides Vasant Panchami day. It is celebrated on the day when Panchami Tithi prevails during Purvahna Kala.
History of Vasant Panchami
Vasant Panchami marks the beginning of the spring season. In the eastern part of India, particularly in West Bengal, it is celebrated as Saraswati Puja, states of Punjab and Bihar, celebrate it as a festival of the kites. However, during ancient times, the festival was celebrated in the royal place of Kamadeva. Dancing girls and other celebrants dance on the beats of dhol. New clothes were designed to participate in the celebration.
Although now the festival is dominated by the worship of the goddess Saraswati, a great feast is prepared in the honor of Kamadeva. Also, love is still considered an integral part of the day, as it is auspicious to host a large number of weddings during the festival.
Significance of Vasant Panchami
The festival of Vasant Panchami is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of Wisdom. According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Saraswati is a symbol of knowledge and wisdom. Vasant Panchami is considered as the birthday of Goddess Saraswati.
She is the goddess of learning. Hence, students seek blessings from Saraswati. This ritual of initiating education in the kids is known as Akshar-Abhyasam or Vidya-Arambham which is one of the rituals of Vasant Panchami.
Why do we celebrate Vasant Panchami?
Word ‘Basant’ means Spring. An important Indian festival, Basant Panchami, Vasant Panchami or Shree Panchami, is associated with the season of Spring. Spring is crowned as the king of all seasons. It falls in the Indian month of Magh.
Just like Makar Sankranti, this festival also marks the closure of Winter when fresh and gentle weather replaces the haunting cold and bid goodbye to the winter blues. This festival specifically represents the yellow color, and Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of Wisdom, art, culture, and music. That is why this day is also known as Saraswati Puja.
Yellow color and Goddess Saraswati signifies spirituality and therefore people wear yellow clothes, offer yellow flowers to God, prepare yellow dishes, and worship Goddess Saraswati for enlightenment in life. This festival is also known as the festival of kites. On this day many fairs are organized and people fly kites to celebrate.
What is meant by Vasant Panchami?
Vasant Panchami is a festival that highlights the coming of spring. The festival is celebrated by the people of the Hindu community and is dedicated to the worship of Goddess Saraswati. This festival is usually celebrated in Magh, which is between the months of January and February in the Gregorian calendar.
The Vasant Utsav on Panchami is celebrated forty days before Spring, because any season’s transition period is 40 days, and after that, the season comes into full bloom.
According to the Hindu calendar, it falls during the Purvahna Kaal on the Panchami Tithi. In other words, it occurs on the fifth day of Magha (which works out to early February).
Vasant Panchami also called Saraswati Puja, or the Festival of Kites is celebrated by the Hindus as well as the Sikh community.
On this day, the goddess of knowledge, wisdom, and art, Saraswati, is worshipped. Kamadeva and Vasant are also honoured at this festival.
The colour yellow has a great significance in the celebration of Vasant Panchami. It is believed to be the symbol of blossoming flowers of mustard. Yellow attire is therefore worn by the followers of Saraswati. Moreover, the sweets and dishes prepared for the festival are usually yellow and saffron in colour.
This festival is also celebrated in educational institutes like schools and colleges. It is said that Goddess Saraswati can bestow on her devotee’s lots of wisdom, learning, and knowledge as the goddess is considered to be an epitome of wisdom. Students and teachers wear new clothes, offer prayers to the goddess of knowledge and various programs of song and dance are organized to please the goddess.
In many parts of the country, the celebrants set up a grand pandal to welcome the goddess and worship her. In West Bengal, it is celebrated as Sri Panchami. Colourful processions are held to carry idols of Saraswati and immerse it in the holy water of river Ganga. In Firozpur, the day is celebrated by flying colourful kites. Thus the festival is also called as the Kite Festival.
The festival is also celebrated in Nepal. Their temples of Saraswati are decorated a day before the festival to welcome the goddess for the special feast on Vasant Panchami.
In 2019, the festival was celebrated on 10 February but in 2020, the festival will be observed on 29 January.