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Importance of Basant Panchami

Om Vakdevyai cha vidhmahe, Virinji Pathnaicha dheemahe, Tanno Vaani Prachodayath! 

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Saraswati Devi - one of the trio - is the Hindu goddess of learning, wisdom and knowledge. She is portrayed in white sari and is seated in a white padmam i.e lotus flower. She holds a Veena (stringed musical instrument) in her hand which is known as Madalasa. Her vahanam / vehicle is a swan which symbolizes imbibing of good / wanted and discarding of the unwanted / useless, hence she is known as Hamsa Vahini. She is considered as the wife of Lord Brahma - the Hindu god of creation.

It has become customary for the Hindu parents across the country to worship goddess Saraswati for a bright education of their children. Vasanta Panchami is known by the names of Basant Panchami, Sri or Siri Panchami and Saraswati Pooja in different regions of the country. It is one of the important Hindu festivals that falls in the auspicious Hindu month of Maagha. The word 'vasant' or 'basant' in Sanskrit means 'spring'. The festival marks the beginning of spring season. The festival is celebrated on Magha Suddha Panchami (the 5th day of the Sukla Paksha i.e the brighter half of the moon) of Maagha masam. The festival generally falls in the end of January of beginning of February.

Significance of the festival

As per Hindu scriptures, it is believed that Vasant Panchami is the birthday of Goddess Saraswati. The festival is celebrated in most of the temples, homes and educational institutions across the country.  The day is considered highly auspicious for Aksharabhyasam or first writing of letters by the kids which forms the foundation for their learning process. The festival is celebrated with much devotion at Basara Saraswati Temple in Telangana. The temple is one of its kind in India.

Goddess Saraswati is also known by the name Vagdevi ("vak" = speech and "devi" = goddess) i.e the Goddess of Purity Speech. She is also known by other names like Bhaarati, Vani, Sarada, Pustakadhaarini etc. It is believed that the blessings and grace of Goddess Saraswati is essential for becoming efficient in one's chosen field. Devotees who worshiping Her on this special day are blessed with wisdom, knowledge and clarity and purity in speech without speech disorders.

Vasant Panchami is not celebrated much in the Southern states of India as the South Indians worship Goddess Saraswati on the 'Mula Nakshatram' day during Dussehra Navaratri. However the festival is celebrated with much fervor and devotion in some of the Northern and Eastern states particularly in West Bengal and Odisha.

In these states mostly the Goddess in the temples is dressed in yellow sari, worshiped with yellow flowers and is offered yellow white sweets as naivedyam. Yellow color has a prominence on this special day and even the devotees, men, women and children wear yellow dress on this day and worship Goddess Saraswati. Some even observe fasting on this day and eat only the prasad / naivedyam. Yellow color signifies the ripened crops that are harvested in the beginning of spring season and even spiritually yellow color signifies prosperity.

In some regions, devotees prefer white instead of yellow for worshiping Goddess Saraswati. They offer white sweets like sooji laddu or kheer.  It is believed that one gets spiritual enlightenment on worshiping Saraswati as She is an embodiment of Purity, Wisdom and Knowledge.

Devotees praise Her and chant hymns on the Goddess like the Saraswati Prardhana and sloka

Om Saraswati Mahabhage, Vidye Kamala Lochane
Viswarupe Visalakshi, Vidyam Dehi Namostute

Jaya Jaya Devi Charachara Sharey, Kuchayuga Sobhita Mukta Haarey
Veena Ranjita Pustaka Haste Bhagavati Bharati Devi Namostute.

Date of Sri (Basant) Panchami: February 1' 2017 (Wednesday)

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