Vasant means, "The spring season" and Panchami mean fifth day. This is the great spring festival, falling on the fifth day of the month of Magh (January - February), the first day of spring. Vasant Panchami is a festival full of religious, seasonal and social significance and is celebrated by Hindus all over the world with verve and new sense of optimism. Vasant Panchami is the festival dedicated to Saraswati, the goddess of learning.
As 'Diwali' - the festival of light - is to Mother Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, and 'Navaratri' is to Mother Durga, goddess of strength, might and power, Vasant Panchami is dedicated to Mother Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and learning. She represents the free flow of wisdom and consciousness. She is the mother of the Vedas, and chants to her, called the 'Saraswati Vandana' often begin and end Vedic lessons.
Hindus celebrate this festival with great enthusiasm, and temples and households are full of activities on this day. This 'Panchami' is also known as Saraswati Day, because it is believed that on this day the goddess was born.
Her expression is so serene and calm even thou she is majestic. She is seated on a white lotus in Padmasana, adorned by a pure white silk sari, has a book in her lower left hand, her lower right hand showing the chinmudra. Both of her eyes are full of compassion. The vehicle assigned to each of the three goddesses also symbolically represent their special powers. Mother Saraswati is the consort of Lord Brahma (Lord of Creation) and is the Goddess of wisdom and learning. Mother Saraswati is the one who gives the essence (sara) of our own self (swa). She is considered as the personification of all knowledge - arts, sciences, crafts and other skills. She has a beautiful and elegant presence, is pure white in colour, clad in a white sari, seated on a white lotus, representing purity and brilliance. She has four hands representing four aspects of human personality in learning; mind, intellect, alertness and ego. She has the sacred scriptures in one hand and a lotus (a symbol of true knowledge) in the second. With her other two hands she plays the music of love and life on the veena.
She is dressed in white (sign of purity) and rides on a white goose (swan). The swan is known for its peculiar characteristic of being capable of separating water from milk, indicating that we should possess discrimination in separating the bad from the good. The seat being a lotus or peacock implies that the teacher is well-established in the subjective experience of truth. When sitting on a peacock she reminds us that wisdom suppresses ego.
Like Lord Brahma, she is not worshipped much in temples. However, every year Saraswati Pooja (Navaratri) is celebrated by people all over India, be it students, workers, craftsmen, businessmen offering their prayers for a successful and fruitful year. However, Mother Saraswati does have a temple in Koothanur in Tanjavur district (Tamil Nadu). There is an important Saraswati Temple in Basar at a distance of 40 km from Nizamabad in Adilabad District, Andhra Pradesh on the banks of Godavari River.
The colour yellow is given special importance on Vasant Panchami. On this day, Mother Saraswati is dressed in yellow garments and worshipped. People prefer to wear yellow clothes on this holy day. Sweet of yellowish hues are distributed among relations and friends. Some people feed Brahmins, some perform Pitri-Tarpan (ancestor worship) like in Pitr Paksha and many worship Kamadeva, the god of love on this day.
However, the most significant aspect of this day is that children are taught their first words on this day, for it is considered an auspicious day to begin how to read and write. Educational institutions organize special prayer for Mother Saraswati. Notebooks, pencils and pens are kept at the Devi's feet for blessings and then used by the students. A notice board asks the students to write their names; address and the roll number on a piece of paper and put it in the hundi after praying for success! Ma blesses them for good and positive results. Saintly people and individuals inclined towards spiritual progress attach great importance to the worship of Mother Saraswati.
Vasant Panchami is a festival full of religious, seasonal and social significance and is celebrated by Hindus all over the world with verve and new sense of optimism. The first faint signals of the forthcoming festival of Holi - the festival of colours - also manifest at Vasant Panchami.
Below is a simple prayer format to perform on this day to Mother Sarasvati
Firstly have a bath and then wear clean clothes?at your prayer place already have a picture/murti of Mother Sarasvati and before hand make sure the prayer place is already clean/tidy and ready for your worship?Light incense/agarbatti and play in the background devotional music of Ma Sarasvati? this is to give the prayer a special feeling?
When you are standing in front of Mother Sarasvati chant: -
One who is a student should chant the following mantra of Sarasvati Devi daily: -
Om saraswati namas tubhyam
Varade kama rupini,
Vidya rambam karishyami,
Siddhir bhavatu me sada.
My salutations unto you Mother Sarasvati. By your will I begin the process of learning. Let my efforts be crowned with success.
(You can chant this mantra just once before the start of your study and in the morning when you are performing Sarasvati puja.).
May Mother Saraswati Bless you & yours with wisdom, peace, happiness, good health & prosperity
Compiled (for the upliftment of Sanathan Dharma - The Eternal Religion) By Narottam Das 032 9444 108