Table of Contents
Vasant Panchami Date and Shubh Muhurat 2020
Vasant Panchami Puja Muhurat – 10:45 to 12:34
Vasant Panchami 2020: Nature Awakens
Meaning of the Festival
“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”, so said the poet P. B. Shelley. Vasant Panchami, also spelled as Basant Panchami is an Indian festival celebrated every year to herald the arrival of spring. It also marks the change of seasons, from the chilly frost of winter to the mild warmth of spring. Vasant means the season of spring. Panchami means fifth day. It is celebrated forty days before spring, according to the Hindu calendar in the month of Magha, which usually falls in late January or early February. The festival is celebrated with much fervour by Hindus in the Indian subcontinent. North India celebrates it outdoors with kite flying, dancing and exchanging sweets. Whereas the Eastern, Western and Southern parts of India celebrate it in temples and with Saraswati puja. Vasant Panchami also marks the start of preparations for ‘Holi’, the festival of colors, which would be celebrated forty days later.
According to popular belief, the festival originated in the Aryan period. Aryans entered India through Khyber Pass and settled down. Being an early civilization, most of their development took place along the banks of Saraswati river. The river began to be associated with fertility in knowledge and then onwards the day began to be celebrated. Another interesting tale around Vasant Panchami, is a story about love. As per mythology, Kamadeva’s wife Rati performed an arduous penance of forty days to bring back her husband who was reduced to ashes by Shiva. Pleased with her penance, he revived Kama. Kama, the god of love, and Rati are also worshipped on Vasant Panchami.
Vasant Panchami is a festival dedicated to the Hindu goddess Saraswati, goddess of knowledge, music and art. On this day, devotees worship the Hindu goddess and seek her blessings. Vasant Panchami is also celebrated as her birthday. Saraswati puja is conducted in Hindu households across the country. Among the states in the East, West Bengal celebrates Saraswati puja with much zeal and enthusiasm, on a very large scale. Schools, colleges and institutions imparting knowledge, where Saraswati is held in high esteem, observe the festival and arrange special prayers or puja in the morning. People usually perform Saraswati puja during Purvahna Kala, that is the time between sunrise and midday.
Celebrations across the Country
In Kutch district of Gujarat, Vasant Panchami is associated with the emotion of love and celebrated by preparing bouquets and garlands of flowers with mango leaves. People dress in saffron, yellow or pink and visit one another. Melodies about Krishna’s pranks with Radha are sung on the occasion. In Rajasthan, people wear jasmine garlands. Newly wed couples in Maharashtra visit temples and offer prayers, on their first Vasant Panchami. Hindus in Indonesia celebrate the festival, known as ‘Hari Raya Saraswati’ with prayers at home, educational institutions and public venues from morning to noon. The festival is also celebrated by Hindus in Nepal. The Sikh community also observes Basant Panchami to mark the onset of spring. They regard it as a spring celebration and wear yellow garments mirroring the yellow blooms rampant in the mustard fields. The festival is also celebrated by farmers, as the harbinger of spring. The day is also considered to be an auspicious one in Hindu culture, for embarking on important things like getting married, beginning new work or conducting house warming ceremony.
In this festival, the color yellow is given a lot of significance. It is considered to be the favorite color of the goddess. The color also symbolizes optimism, prosperity and light. Men, women and children dress up in brightly colored yellow clothes. Yellow coloured food like boondi ladoo, kesari bhaath, meethe chawal etc. are prepared for consumption and relished. The festival also celebrates the mustard fields ripening with yellow flowers. Basant Panchami is also associated with the color of mustard flowers that bloom at this particular time of the year.
Music and Arts
Indian classical musicians celebrate by rendition of spring ragas like Basant bahar, Bhairav bahar, Jaunpur bahar etc. Musical concerts and poetic symposiums are also held with great enthusiasm.
The day is considered auspicious to perform Pitru Tarpan, ritual for departed souls, wherein a puja for ancestors is carried out. Brahmins are invited and fed on the occasion.
Families use this time to gather together and spend the day in activities like flying kites, listening to music and dancing. Kite flying events are held where both skilled and unskilled participants bring in their colorful kites and fly them from roof tops or playgrounds. The sky is a riot of colors and is filled with beautiful and colorful kites. The aim is to cut off the strings of all other kites and be the last one standing. Both adults and children, are filled with enthusiasm and enjoy flying kites.
Initiation of Learning
This is also considered to be an auspicious time for children to begin learning something new. Traditionally, children are encouraged to write their first letters or words. One such ritual, where this takes place, is Akshar Abhyasam or Vidya Arambham, indicating the beginning of education. Small children are taught how to write their first letters. Students keep their notebooks and other educational materials near the statue of Saraswati. In West Bengal, the day is unofficially a ‘no study day’ as students keep their books on close proximity of the statue of Saraswati for her blessings. Hindu educational institutions offer special prayers to Saraswati on this day. It is also a day to inaugurate training institutes and new schools―a trend made famous by renowned Indian educationist, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, who founded the Banaras Hindu University on Vasant Panchami day in 1916.
The festival ushers in a lot of joy to its celebrants. Vasant Panchami is seen as a time to start afresh and make a new beginning. Nature is at it’s beautiful and bountiful best, with trees sprouting new shoots, lush greenery and flowers in bloom.