- Prof. Kavita Joshi
Welcoming the Spring !
Vasant Panchami (vasant means "spring" and panchami "fifth") is a Hindu festival celebrated on the fifth day of the Hindu lunar month of Magha (January-February in the Western calendar), heralding the end of winter and the arrival of spring. Spring, known in India as the "king of all seasons," not only brings warm relief from the cold of winter, but it is also the time when the mustard plant blooms yellow flowers, a colour that represents knowledge, light, energy, prosperity and peace. Therefore, it is considered an auspicious time to start new ventures, such as getting married, buying a house or starting a new job.
Vasant Panchami is also widely known as the birthday of Goddess Saraswati (the goddess of knowledge, wisdom, learning and art).
Vasant Panchami marks the time when Goddess Saraswati is said to have blessed the famous Sanskrit poet Kalidasa, who is said to have lived sometime between the 4th and 5th centuries CE. Another story related to Vasant Panchami is about Kamadeva, the god of love, who tries to awaken Shiva from his meditation. Vasant Panchami is considered not only the day Kamadeva was asked to awaken Shiva's desire for Parvati, but also the time of year when Kamadeva awakens the passions of the earth and people as the lands blossom with new flowers.
Many celebrate and honour Goddess Saraswati by dressing in yellow (her favorite color), eating and sharing yellow sweets and snacks, and performing a puja to her deity. Saraswati is also worshiped by students who want to succeed in their academic careers, as she is the goddess of learning and knowledge. Others worship Shiva and Parvati by giving them mango flowers and wheat grains. Of course, all gods and goddesses associated with Vasant Panchami can be worshiped, for worship is not limited to anyone.