Celebrated on the fifth day (Panchami) of the Magha (month) of the Hindu calendar, Saraswati Puja is also celebrated as Basant Panchami in some parts of Nepal and India. It is the festival that marks the arrival of the spring season in India.
The festival is dedicated to Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music and art. On this day, goddess Saraswati is worshipped in temples as well as by students in schools and colleges.
As per Hindu mythology, Lord Brahma is believed to have created the universe on this day. It is also believed that Goddess Durga gave birth to Goddess Saraswati on this day. The significance of the occasion is huge in Hindu culture, as the day is considered auspicious to start new work, get married or perform a house warming ceremony (Grah Pravesh).
The colour yellow has a lot of significance on the day. People celebrate the day by wearing yellow outfits, worshipping goddess Saraswati and eating traditional dishes. The colour yellow symbolises knowledge and also denotes mustard fields that are associated with the arrival of spring season.
Basant Panchami celebrates the arrival of the spring season or Vasant Ritu. In the Hindi language, “Basant” means spring, and “Panchami” means the fifth day.
The festival of Basant Panchami is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of wisdom. According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Saraswati was born on this day and is the deity for wisdom and knowledge. Students worship the goddess by putting their books and pens near the idol.
When is Shree Panchami
Saraswati pooja is observed on Magh Sukla Panchami. Saraswati pooja is done on Panchami, so the day is called Shree Panchami.
This year Shree Panchami is on 21st of Magh, 2070. This date coincide with February 4, 2014 in Gregorian calendar.
Saras in Sanskrit signifies flow and wati means the bearer. Saraswati is "she who has flow". Sara also means essence and swati means self. Therefore, she is regarded as self-essence.
What do we do in Saraswati puja in Nepal
The day is very auspicious day. This is the day for many Nepali kids start writing their first letters and alphabets. Children are taken to Saraswati temple and asked to read and write first letter of their life. The wall of Swaraswati temples across the country are scribbled by Nepali Alphabet, numbers and slokas. Kids use white chalk to write on the slate or wall. Therefore, it is very important day for every kid. It is believed, Shree Panchami is the best day to start learning new things. Students worship books, pens, notebooks and other instruments. Musician worship his/her instruments. Professionals worships their tools. In one sentence, this is the day when the source of knowledge, art and education are worshiped.
Students worship goddess Saraswati with more diligence and respect. Schools and colleges have special celebration of Saraswati puja in house. In Madhesh and Terai region of Nepal there is tradition of collecting money to build and establish idols of goddess Saraswati at the town avenues. People visit the idols and pay homage and regards. People sometimes organize idols cometetions too. The community who establish the best idol wins and is awarded. This adds more fun to the celebration.
Since this day is believes to be very good and auspicious people get married, start new business and start new venture in this day.
There are many temples of Swaraswati across Nepal. In every temple vicinity there is always a small separate temple for Saraswati. It is a tradition of establishing Saraswati and Ganesh in every temple in Nepal.
Across Kathmandu valley there are three main temples of Goddess Saraswoti. They are Saraswoti Temple in Lele, Saraswoti temple in Swyambhu, Nil Saraswoti temple in Gairidhara. Devotees in Kathmandu valley visit these temples from early morning to late in the evening during the Saraswati Day.
या कुंदेंदु तुषारहार धवला, या शुभ्र वस्त्रावृता |
या वीणावर दण्डमंडितकरा, या श्वेतपद्मासना ||
या ब्रह्माच्युतशंकरप्रभ्रृतिभिर्देवै: सदा वन्दिता |
सा मां पातु सरस्वती भगवती नि:शेष्य जाड्यापहा ||
सरस्वती मया दृष्टा वीणापुस्तकधारिणी
हंसवाहनसंयुक्ता विद्यादानं करोतु मे
प्रथमं भारती नाम द्वितीयञ्च सरस्वती
तृतीयं शारदा देवी चतुर्थ हंसवाहिनी
पञ्चमं तु जगन्माता षष्ठं वागीश्वरी तथा
सप्तमं चैव कौमारी अष्टमं वरदायिनी
नवमं बुद्धिदात्री च दशमं ब्रह्मचारिणी
एकादशं चन्द्रघण्टा द्वादशं भुवनेश्वरी
द्वादशै तानि नामानि त्रिसन्ध्यं य पठेन्नरः
जिव्हाग्रे वसते तस्य ब्रह्मरूपा सरस्वती