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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Saraswati Puja, the celebration of the Goddess of learning and arts

Maa Saraswati is the Hindu Goddess of Learning. Saraswati Puja, also known as the festival of Basant Panchami, is held during the month of January or February during ‘Shukla Paksha’ or the Full Moon fortnight in Magha month of Hindu calendar.

Maa Saraswati is considered the Hindu deity of music, culture and learning. This Puja is celebrated throughout Bengal to pay obeisance to the Goddess of education who is considered as the daughter of Maa Durga. It is among the most awaited festival for students. The deity of art, wisdom and culture is worshipped mainly by students across the state and beyond. In every household of West Bengal, Saraswati Puja is held with great enthusiasm and fervour.

Clay murtis of the Goddess are seen with the crescent moon on the brow, riding a swan or seated on a Lotus with flowers. Fruits and sweets are placed as offerings before her. The rituals start early in the morning in schools, colleges, community clubs and households with priests chanting mantras and devotees giving pushpanjali (offering of flowers) at the deity’s feet. Students also place their books, pens and musical instruments beside the deity for the entire day to receive the Goddess’s blessings.

Girls and women dress up in traditional bright yellow (basanti) sarees and men and boys in kurta, pajama and even dhoti. A sumptuous lunch follows after the completion of all the rituals. Like in every other Hindu festival, food plays a crucial role in Saraswati Puja. Traditionally Khichdi, a mixture of rice and lentils with potato, cauliflower added for taste, eggplant fry (beguni), aloo dum, chutney and sweets are served. On this day all the students go to their schools and colleges. Even ex-students visit their alma mater on this special occasion.

Saraswati Puja also marks the onset of the Spring season. The same day is also marked as Basant Panchami in the Hindu Panchanga (calendar).

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