India is a country that celebrates life in every and any form. We have been celebrating for thousands of years and will continue to do so. Behind every celebration, there lies a meaningand a story as we are closely associated with spirituality, religion and living in harmony with nature.What has also been taught is it is our duty to acknowledge and respect Nature.
Here is one such festival that comes just after Makar Sankranti calledVasant Panchami or Basant Panchami.It is the beginning of spring as winter fades away gradually, resulting in warmer climates and a sense of joy is in the air.
For the uninitiated, Vasant Panchami falls on the fifth day of the bright lunar fortnight (Shukla Paksha) of the month of Magha in the Indian (Lunar) calendar.As we are closely associated with Gods/Goddesses, saints, stories and mythology, the festival of Vasant Panchami also has a story behind it.
Vasant Panchami also called Saraswati Puja is associated with the River Saraswati (a river that is non-existent today). In ancient days, this mighty river used to flow heavily as the glaciers of the Himalayas would melt post winter. On the very banks of this river, mustard plants would be sown and as they blossomed, the whole stretch would look lovely and bright in yellow.
In ancient times, Saints living on the banks of the river with their disciples, would impart education and many learnt the Vedas here. Thus, the river Saraswati was associated with learning and knowledge.Gradually, the river Saraswati got linked to intelligence, education, and learning eventually Goddess Saraswati came into being.
Incidentally, yellow is the symbol for education, learning and energy. Saints and Rishis are associated with Yellow (as is seen with Lord Dakshinamurthy/Guru Bhagwan or planet Jupiter). I, PushpamAppalanaidu for instance, believe in colors, the symbols and energy they represent.
All over India, on this day, Goddess Saraswati is worshipped with pujas conducted at homes and in temples. In some parts of South India, this festival is also called Sri Panchami.
Another story that revolves around Vasant Panchami is, on this day, Goddess Parvati had sent Kama Deva to break Lord Shiva’s penance so, she could be with him. Ofcourse, everyone knows what happens to Kama Deva.
On Vasant Panchami, in North India, children are enrolled into formal education and it is an auspicious month for conducting marriages. It is believed Gods too prefer to get married in this month.
India is a diversified country with many religions, languages and beliefs and festivals like Vasant Panchami unites everyone. For example, in Punjab, Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh or Gujarat, traditions and rituals are performed with sanctity and offerings are made equally for everyone knows, it is knowledge and wisdom that one needs in life and Vasant Panchami is all that and more.