The Vasant Utsav or Vasant Panchami which is a famous festival amongst the Hindus is celebrated to welcome spring and mark the harvest season. Read this article to know about this festival, background and how it is celebrated.
Vasant Panchami, a Hindu festival that marks the onset of spring is celebrated all over India with great enthusiasm and spirituality. Marking the start of preparation for Holi which usually starts after forty days from Vasant Panchami, the festival is celebrated differently in several parts of the country, mainly depending on the lifestyles of different regions in the Indian subcontinent.
On the fifth day of the Hindu lunisolar calendar, the celebration of Vasant Panchami is observed. During this occasion, it is generally winter-like in Northern parts of India and more spring-like in central and western parts of India. The word in a literal sense means the fifth day of spring since 'Vasant' means Spring and Panchami mean' fifth'.
Why is Vasant Panchami Celebrated?
All of the reasons behind this celebration is quite intriguing. According to a popular belief among the Hindus, Goddess Saraswati who is believed to be the deity of knowledge, music, art, and wisdom was born on this day. This is the reason why in several parts of the country like in Assam, the celebration of Maa Saraswati or Saraswati Puja is observed on this day. On the 16'th of February this year Assam will be celebrating this festival with great devotion and dedication. Legend has it that Lord Brahma had created the earth and humans, but felt it was all a bit too quiet, so on this day, he created Saraswati by sprinkling some water in the air. As she came from water, she is also called the water deity. Saraswati then filled the world with beautiful music and blessed the world with her voice.
Based on the Hindu god of love, Kama there is another legend behind Vasant Panchami. Also known as Madana Panchami this day is remembered as the day when kama was approached by the rishis to wake Shiva from his Yogic meditation. In the Hindu religion, this day is considered to be extremely auspicious for starting new work, getting married, or organizing house warming ceremonies.
Celebrations all over India
Different parts of India celebrate this festival in their unique ways. In Punjab, the festival is observed as a festival of kites. Young kids and adults are seen flying kites and making merry. In Rajasthan, it is a tradition for people to wear jasmine garlands during this festival. In Uttarakhand, along with Maa Saraswati people also worship Shiva and Parvati on this day. In Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur of the Punjab region, a Vasant Panchami fair is held every year during this season.
Some significant Symbols of the festival
The Colour Yellow
The color of Vasant or Spring is yellow and hence most preparations for this festival about food, clothes, decorations, etc are all done in yellow. Also, the festival celebrates the agricultural fields of the mustard crop ripening with yellow flowers, which the Hindus consider to be Maa Saraswati's favorite color. Yellow attire is worn by the devotees, yellow-colored delicacies are served in various places. In Bengal and Bihar, Goddess Saraswati is offered boondi and ladoo which are both yellow The idol of the goddess is also dressed in yellow because it is believed that it symbolizes peace, prosperity, light, energy, and optimism. In Maharashtra, newly wedded couples visit temples dressed in yellow on their first Vasant Panchami. In Punjab, the Sikhs and Hindus are seen wearing yellow turban or headdress.
A tasty combination of rice and lentils is prepared along with fried brinjals and cabbage during the festival and is served as "Bhog"(Prashad). All seasonal vegetables are used in preparing this dish. During Saraswati puja in Assam and West Bengal, people create Puja Pandals and lighting and celebrate this festival with great enthusiasm. Pandal hopping is quite common on this day, young students, friends, families are seen visiting various places of worship seeking the blessings of Goddess Saraswati.
How is Vasant Panchami Celebrated in Assam?
Here, Saraswati puja is celebrated with a lot of excitement and devotion especially in West Bengal and Assam. Every school, college, film studio, musical institutions, dance schools, and several other institutions associated with knowledge and creativity celebrate Saraswati Puja to seek the blessings of the Goddess.
In every household, Maa Saraswati is worshipped on this auspicious day. Students are seen placing their books near the idol of Saraswati in hopes of gaining knowledge, virtue, and wisdom. Maa Saraswati is also considered to be the bearer of Music and so Musicians place their musical instruments alongside her. The celebration is concluded with a warm wholesome meal of khichdi served with mashed tomatoes(bilahir tok) and labra (mixed vegetables).