Vasant Panchami, the Festival of Kites, falls on Panchami of the Sukal Paksh ( Waxing moon) towards the close of winter in the month of January-February. The weather circle seems to be changing otherwise Vasant used to bring a message of softness in the weather in place of the hard cold season. Vasant is the time when mustard fields are yellow with it the spring is ushered in. So Punjabis welcome the change and celebrate the day by wearing yellow clothes, holding feasts and by organizing kite flying.
Hindus all over the world celebrate this festival with great enthusiasm, as it is believed to be the birthday of Goddess Saraswati, the God principle of motion (gati), Who is also associated with the creation of the Universe. She is the Energy (Shakti) related to the male deity, Lord Brahma.
Rituals and Celebrations:
The lady of the house dressed in yellow with zari and gota on the dress, looking like Lakshmi, the wife of Vishnu (a housewife is always alluded to as Lakshmi and no other goddess) with the chonp, bindi on the forehead and yellow and red bangles on the arms, sets the trend for everyone to become festive.
The puja is begun by the youngest girl present by applying the teeka on everyone's forehead and then, by turns, everyone sprinkling water, aipun and roli by the third finger of the right hand dipped in each liquid, by turn, holding the finger each time by the thumb loosely and then letting it go with a light jerk,',so as to sprinkle the attached liquid onto the deity. This is done three times with each liquid. The rice and flowers are picked up by the fingers and thumb and showered on to the gods. Everyone puts a little colour onto the gods. The heralding of summer begins with a bit of color sprinkled even today (before Holi) on the gods. The lady of the house then takes a few ber's, some sangaris and a laddoo and a paan (the same paan along with the nariyal can be given to everyone since paan is now a very expensive item) and gives them to each member present. This activity can be done in two installments as it is difficult to hold all these items at one time. The receiver takes the offerings in both hands and touches them to the giver his or her forehead and returns these items to the giver, but from the second installment, he or she must take one or two items at least and eat them in the puja room.
It is a public holiday in the Haryana, Odisha,Tripura and West Bengal regions of India.
Saraswati Prayer for the Festival:
Om Saraswati Mahabhagey, Vidye Kamala
Viswarupey Vishalakshmi, Vidyam Dehi Namohastutey ||
Jaya Jaya Devi, Charachara Sharey, Kuchayuga Shobhita, Mukta Haarey |
Vina Ranjita, Pustaka Hastey, Bhagavati Bharati Devi Namohastutey ||
This Saraswati "Pranam Mantra" is chanted with utmost devotion by the devotees on this day.
As Saraswati is the goddess of learning, Students observe the blessings from Maa Saraswati.The most significant aspect of this day is that Hindu children are taught reading and writing their first words on this day - as it is considered an auspicious day to begin a child's education. Educational institutions organize special prayers for Saraswati on this day. It is also considered a great day for the grand opening of educational institutes. The great Indian guru Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya laid the foundations of the world-class academic institution, Kashi Hindu Vishwavidyalaya on Vasant Panchami.
Importance of wearing yellow on Vasant Panchami:
Yellow is the color of this festival as it signifies the ripening of fruits and crops. The mustard fields in North India blooms during this season giving a yellow coat to nature. Saraswati is worshiped in a yellow dress. People wear yellow clothes, offer yellow flowers to Goddess and put a yellow, turmeric tilak on their forehead. Sweet saffron rice and yellow sweets are prepared and consumed this day.