Vasant Panchami : The Festival of Knowledge and Art

Vasant Panchami 2017

Happy Basant Panchami 2017 (2)
  • As ‘Diwali’ – the festival of light – is to Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity, and ‘Navaratri’ is to Durga, goddess of power and valor, Vasant Panchami is to Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and arts.
  • This festival is celebrated every year on the 5th day or ‘Panchami’ of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Magha, which falls during January-February, (see calendar).
  • ‘Vasant’ comes from the word ‘spring’ as this festival heralds the beginning of the spring season.

Birthday of Goddess Saraswati:

saras
  • It is believed that on this day goddess Saraswati was born.
  • Hindus celebrate Vasant Panchami with great fervor in temples, homes and even schools and colleges.
  • Saraswati’s favorite color white assumes special significance on this day. Statues of the goddess are dressed in white clothes and are worshiped by devotees adorning white garments.
  • Saraswati is offered sweets which are given away as ‘prasad’ to all people attending the ritual worship.
  • There is also a custom of ancestor worship, known as ‘Pitri-Tarpan’ in many parts of India during Vasant Panchami.

The Foundation of Education:

vasant

  • The most significant aspect of Vasant Panchami is that it is also the most auspicious day to begin laying one’s foundations of education – of how to read and write.
  • Pre-school children are given their first lesson in reading and writing on this day. All Hindu educational institutions conduct special prayer for Saraswati on this day.
  • It is also a great day to inaugurate training institutes and new schools – a trend made famous by the renowned Indian educationist Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (1861-1946), who founded the Banaras Hindu University on Vasant Panchami day in 1916.

Saraswati Mantra: Sanskrit Prayer:

Popular ‘pranam mantra’ or Sanskrit prayer [Recite whole day]
Om Saraswati Mahabhagey, Vidye Kamala Lochaney |
Viswarupey Vishalakshmi, Vidyam Dehi Namohastutey ||
Jaya Jaya Devi, Charachara Sharey, Kuchayuga Shobhita, Mukta Haarey |
Vina Ranjita, Pustaka Hastey, Bhagavati Bharati Devi Namohastutey ||

The following hymn is also recited on Vasant Panchami:

Yaa Kundendu tushaara haaradhavalaa, Yaa shubhravastraavritha|
Yaa veenavara dandamanditakara, Yaa shwetha padmaasana||
Yaa brahmaachyutha shankara prabhritibhir Devaisadaa Vanditha|
Saa Maam Paatu Saraswatee Bhagavatee Nihshesha jaadyaapahaa||

English Translation:

May Goddess Saraswati,
who is fair like the jasmine-colored moon,
and whose pure white garland is like frosty dew drops;
who is adorned in radiant white attire,
on whose beautiful arm rests the veena,
and whose throne is a white lotus;
who is surrounded and respected by the Gods, protect me.
May you fully remove my lethargy, sluggishness, and ignorance.”

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