Vasant Panchami is a festival celebrated in North India some time during the months of January or February to commemorate the beginning of spring. At this time, the mustard fields throughout the north are blossoming with yellow mustard flowers. This is highly significant, for mustard oil is used for everything from cooking to skin cream in this northern region.
Vasant Panchami is the festival dedicated to goddess Saraswati, India’s ancient goddess of knowledge, language, music and all arts. Although white is generally associated with this goddess, at this time of year, she is dressed in yellow. Women and men also dress in yellow saris and shirts during this auspicious day.
In eastern states of India such as West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Assam, people visit Her temples and worship Her in Saraswati Pujas. Most of the schools arrange a special Saraswati puja for their students on their premises.
Amrita SeRVe villages were no different this year. The Vasant Panchami Pooja in our villages of Guptapada, Deurbal and Kalinagar in the states of Orrisa, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal was celebrated by nearly 300 children. Together with the school authorities, our village coordinators went to the local government schools to help in the arrangements of the event.
Arriving in clean clothes, the children were led in an opening prayer followed by local bhajans, prasad, and a distribution of sweets. A teacher talked about the importance of the day: “Spring is the beginning of something new,” she explained. “Like the flowering mustard fields, we want our knowledge to blossom. Today we pray to Saraswati for knowledge and wisdom.”
This, and other occasions like these, are viewed as a reason to celebrate, to come together, to have fun, to learn, and to develop a love towards India’s culture and traditions.