India, stretching from the snow capped Himalayas in the north to the blue oceans at Kanya Kumari in the south and from Bay of Bengal in the east to the deserts of Rajasthan in the west is a land of extremes and diversities, still united. It enjoys all seasons and festivals filled with colour, music, fun and enthusiasm. As part of Indian culture and traditions, deities are honored and worshiped through these festivals. Vasant Panchami is a famous festival that marks the end of the winter season and ushers in the springtime. The festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the spring season and according to the Hindu calendar, it falls during the Purvahna Kaal on the Panchami Tithi or fifth day of Magha (which works out to early February).
It is celebrated in different ways in various parts of India. For Hindus, it is celebrated by worshipping of Goddess Saraswati or Lord Shiva or Surya where as Sikh celebrates it as the Festival of Kites and fair and for Muslims, the festival forms part of the Sufi tradition.
Let’s have a look how it is celebrated in different parts of India
Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh: The festival is dominated by the worship of the goddess of knowledge, wisdom and art – Saraswati. People wear bright yellow dresses and offer yellow flowers to the Goddess. The color yellow holds a special meaning for this celebration as it signifies the brilliance of nature and the vibrancy of life. The day is celebrated in educational institutions where statues of Goddess Saraswati are adorned with yellow sari and jewellery. These are then worshiped, prayers are offered, art and painting competitions, poetry recitations and music festivals all over India in honor of Goddess Saraswati – the patron of the arts. Moreover, the sweets and dishes prepared for the festival are usually yellow and saffron in color.
Punjab and Haryana: Kite flying is a very popular tradition observed (particularly in Haryana and Punjab) on Vasant Panchami. Children and adults alike engage in flying small and large kites and various kite-flying competitions are held across terrace and in playgrounds all over northern India. Fairs are conducted and women celebrate by swaying on swings, singing and dancing on the rhythm of dhols. Langars are given in Gurudwara.
Uttarkashi: Here, it is a farmer’s festival. People decorate the main doors of the house with yellow flowers welcoming the spring and the new sowing season. It is traditional for people to wear yellow and customary to eat saffron colored rice. Other sweet dishes include gajjar ka halwa and laddo.
Bihar: Everyone rises early to bathe, dress in yellow clothes, adorn their forehead with the yellow tilak of turmeric and perform prayers in the morning by worship the Sun, Mother Ganga and the earth. Saraswati pooja is also performed.
West Bengal: It is celebrated as Sri Panchami, the celebrants set up a grand pandal to welcome the goddess Saraswati and worship her. Pens, notebooks, and pencils are placed near the goddess Devi’s feet to be blessed before they are used by students. Poetic and musical gathering are held and children are initiated to learn alphabet and taught to start writing known as Vidya Arabham. Colourful processions are held to carry idols of Saraswati and immerse it in the holy water of river Ganga.
South India: In South India, Goddess Saraswati is worshipped on the ninth day of navrati.
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