Basant Panchami 2023: Vasant Panchami, which translates to “spring” and “five,” is a celebration that occurs on the fifth day of the Hindu lunar month of Magha (January–February according to the Gregorian calendar), signalling the start of the end of winter and the arrival of spring.
Basant Panchami is also observed as the Goddess Saraswati’s birthday (the goddess of knowledge, wisdom, learning, and art). Therefore, during Basant Panchami, devotees pray to Saraswati for the gift of intelligence.
People in the majority of India rise early and dress in yellow since it is the goddess Saraswati’s favourite colour. They do puja while eating and exchanging yellow food and sweets.
On Saraswati Puja, alpana arts are used to beautify homes in Bengal. After offering the Goddess flowers, fruits, and homemade delicacies such naru, moya, chal makha, and dal makha, the worshippers share the prasad with their neighbours. On Saraswati Puja, young people gather together dressed to the nines in traditional garb.
Bengal’s Valentine’s Day
In Kolkata, Saraswati Puja is also known as “Bengal’s Valentine’s Day.” On this day, the entire Bengal region can witness young lovers going hand in hand while dressed in traditional garb, which is typically yellow.
Basant Panchami 2023: How did it start?
Textbooks, notepads, pens, pencils, and reference books are said to receive the goddess’ blessing when they are placed under her watchful gaze and can then officially request a day off from studying.
In Bengal, single-gender schools are the favoured option for education, and even the so-called “elite” schools were either for boys or for females.
It was then thought that a pupil would have to attend a co-educational school if they were denied entrance to one of the city’s single-gender schools. On the other hand, on the day of the festival, groups of guys visit girls’ schools and dormitories to observe their Saraswati pujas and vice versa. They spend time together talking, walking, eating, making jokes, and taking pictures as they hang out in and around schools and colleges. On this particular day, there is no social penalty for unrestrained mixing.
The members of the opposite genders could, therefore properly excuse themselves from school and home for a whole day during Saraswati Puja.
How do people celebrate this day today?
On this day, young girls wear seductive sarees, and boys wear kurta pyjamas, and love is in the air. They spend time together by eating, cuddling up under trees, or pandal hopping. Students attending schools and colleges can be seen relaxing in the open air at this picturesque site, Prinsep Ghat in Kolkata.
The mood today is one of excitement, enjoyment, and freedom. These young people’s happy smiles make the streets appear vivacious and gorgeous.