Saraswati Puja was celebrated with great grandeur in West Bengal on February 5; the Panchami of the goddess of wisdom was observed in Bihar, Odisha and other parts of the country as well. But a disturbing trend that has surfaced in Bengal since communist days is the treatment of the Saraswati puja as “Valentine’s Day”.
Saraswati Puja, the worship of the Hindu goddess of knowledge at the advent of spring, is celebrated in every Hindu household of Bengal, in neighbourhood clubs and educational institutions. The Saraswati Puja has always been extremely popular among the youth of this state who seek the blessings of Maa Saraswati to excel in their upcoming exams held right after the festival.
There were a plethora of unwritten customs that, with time, got associated with this day. Girls, even toddlers, wearing a bright yellow saree, boys wearing traditional kurta pajamas, keeping the books at the feet of Devi Saraswati leading to a day of the much-awaited “chhutti” from studies have become the tradition. The joy of Hindu students on this day was a big roadblock for the Hindu-hating communists whose sinister plan was always to alienate Hindu Bengali children from their culture.
Hence, the divine day of Saraswati Puja was turned into a day when young teens, all decked in their best traditional attire, with no studies to care for, had an entire day for themselves, which they would use to attract a suitable partner from the opposite gender and ‘hang out’. The media houses chimed in and started to propagate it as “Bengali Valentine’s Day”, thus planting this degeneracy in Hindu Bengali minds, which has continued till date.
Hence, most of the youth in Bengal now look forward to Saraswati puja not to pay their respects to the goddess but to get a time out of their homes and families and loiter around with their romantic partner. It is appalling that even puja mandaps on Saraswati puja become a venue for girls and boys to visit in pairs and start their “date”.
These days social media celebrities from Kolkata have also been promoting the Saraswati puja as “Valentine’s Day” and address it as such.
The cultural decay in the state becomes more prominent when associations organizing the Saraswati Puja choose to ‘decorate’ pandals with sanitary napkins. The same liberals who try to shame Hindus for using milk for the abhikhek during Shivratri, found it to be a wise idea to waste expensive sanitary napkins while also offending Hindu religious sensibilities. It would have been better if they had distributed these napkins to underprivileged women – but then again, is any liberal activism complete without somehow denigrating or distorting Hindu religious practises?
All these “woke” tactics are nothing beyond leftist ploys intended to whitewash the spirit of a Hindu festival, observed with devotion since antiquity. The piety of the Saraswati puja is hence converted into vulgarity by liberals, media and other anti-Hindu forces.
With the Islamist-pandering TMC government in charge of the state, talks of discontinuing the celebration of Saraswati puja in school for the sake of “secularism” has also been debated time and again. In fact, students in several West Bengal schools have been demanding the resumption of Saraswati puja which was banned over a decade back due to pressure by Islamist groups. Hindu students and teachers have even been assaulted by Islamist mobs who demand that ‘Nabi Diwas’ (Islamic Prophet’s birthday) be celebrated instead.
The Hindu community must put their foot down, claim Saraswati puja as a day with strong religious significance and roar against all attempts at such religious and cultural erasure. This is nothing short of cultural genocide.
Saraswati Puja is neither a “Bengali Valentine’s Day”, nor a day for peddling fake social awareness campaigns. Saraswati Puja is the identity of Bengal and must be celebrated with gusto in all Hindu households, institutions and especially schools of the state.