Vasant Panchami, also known as ‘Shri Panchami’ and ‘Saraswati Panchami’ is a Hindu spring festival celebrated every year on the fifth day of the Hindu calendar month of ‘Magha’. The word ‘Vasant’ means ‘spring’ and ‘Panchami’ signifies ‘the fifth day’ and hence the festival is termed as Vasant Panchami. This day is dedicated to ‘Saraswati’ who bequeaths the wealth of knowledge to humanity.
She is known as the Goddess of learning, music, arts and science.
Legends say that Goddess Saraswati was born on this day. Hence, students worship the goddess on this day. ‘AksharAbhyasam’ or the ritual of initiating education to children is performed on this day.
Special ‘havans’ are organised by various schools and colleges on this day to seek blessing of the Goddess. Some people mark this day as the festival of ‘the God of Love’ ‘Kamadeva’. People celebrate it by presenting flowers to their loved ones. The Hindu people of Indonesia, especially in the island of ‘Bali’ celebrate this festival as ‘Hari
Raya Saraswati’, meaning the great day of Saraswati.
Panchami festival also marks the start of preparation for 'Holi', which occurs forty days later.
In Hindu mythology, Goddess Saraswati is described as a pristine lady. She is the wife of Brahma. She is bedecked with white attire, white flowers and white pearls. She sits on a white lotus, which blooms in a wide stretch of water. The Goddess also holds a ‘Veena’, for playing music. She rides on a white swan. Her favourite colour is yellow.
'Yellow' which also signifies the ripening of fruits and crops is the dominant colour of this festival. The mustard fields bloom with yellow flowers during this season. Hence, people wear yellow clothes, eat yellow rice, offer yellow flowers to Goddess and put a yellow turmeric tilak on their forehead.
Some communities in India perform the ‘Pitru-tarpan’ (meaning puja for departed soul) on this day. After performing the ‘Pitru-tarpan’, Brahmins are fed.
This year Vasant Panchami falls on 22nd of January i.e. Monday. Panchami Tithi Begins at 17:03 on 21st January, 2018 and Panchami Tithi Ends at 17:54 on 22nd Jan., 2018.