Vasant Panchami, celebrated every year on the 5th day of the Hindu calendar month of Magh welcomes the oncoming of Spring. The Spring festival is celebrated with a lot of festivities by Sikhs from Vasant Panchami right upto Holi when it culminates. Hindus all over the world consider it extremely auspicious, since it is observed as Saraswati Puja day invoking the Goddess of Learning to shower her blessings. Goddess Saraswati, who represents knowledge, music and culture, is worshipped at homes with the placing of some books and writing materials before her, and at temples.
Yellow the colour of the mustard fields especially in Punjab and Haryana is seen blooming in most fields during this time and has also always been considered all over to be a vibrant and auspicious colour for the occasion. Bright yellow coloured clothes in all its hues are worn during this day and saffron coloured sweet rice and yellow coloured sweets are consumed by all those who observe, to mark the festival.
There are interesting stories connected with Vasant Panchami.
One goes that on Vasant Panchami day, the God of Love Kama was burnt to ashes by the opening of Lord Shiva’s third eye in anger. Kama had shot at him with love arrows while he was in meditation in grief over the self-immolation of his consort Sati. Rati, the wife of Kama, mourns this and does penance for his resurrection until Holi, when he is brought back to life.
In rural areas especially, twigs and sticks are collected day after day and piled up in a central place from this day onwards, for the fire that would be lit on Holi after 40 days. This symbolizes Kama’s burning to ashes through ignorance and getting resurrected through Rati’s penance.
Some celebrate the eating of berries offered by his supreme disciple Shabari to Lord Rama in the forest during his 14-year exile.
Most associate it with Saraswati Puja and observe it as the first day for commencing any activity concerning knowledge and hence pray to Goddess Saraswati for encouragement and blessings to be rid of ignorance and laziness and to be able to achieve enlightenment.
In places like Firozpur and some other places in Punjab, people fly kites as a celebration of the spring season that has arrived.
People in many parts of India also take this occasion to pay the respects to deceased ancestors through worship or Pitr –Tarpan.
Lord Kama, the symbol of love, is remembered for love and romance. Hence people in some parts of India also consider this as auspicious for engagements and weddings.
Land of tradition with multi-cultural diversity, celebration is deeply ingrained in the Indian psyche. An occasion is always eagerly awaited, planned for and enjoyed to the fullest.