January 26, 2023 is Shree Panchami this year, the birthday of goddess Saraswati, the goddess of education and knowledge. The festival also known as Basanta Panchami – marking the start of Basanta ritu (spring season) in Nepal. The dates in calendar changes according to the lunar time-line. The festival falls in the third week of January to the first week of February. (read 2017’s report here.) (and 2018 post)
There are various stories about the origin of the goddess in various Puranas:
The goddess of knowledge in the field of education, art, music, sports and culture is Saraswati. In Bikram Sambat calender the day is the fifth day of the bright lunar half of Magh. Apart from Nepal, Hindu and Sikh communities of Eastern parts of India celebrate Saraswati Puja. (Read more about 6 Seasons in Nepal)
Who is Saraswati?
Saraswati is a goddess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom, and learning. She is considered to be the consort of the god Brahma and the mother of the Vedas, the sacred texts of Hinduism. She is often depicted holding a book, a rosary, and a vina, a stringed musical instrument. In Hinduism, she is considered to be the embodiment of knowledge and learning, and is revered as the goddess of education, music, and all the arts. She is also considered to be the goddess of speech and eloquence and is invoked to bestow the gift of good communication on her devotees. She is also one of the nine Durgas in Hinduism and is worshipped as the goddess of knowledge, music, and art.
What to do on Basanta Panchami?
Basanta/Vasant Panchami festival marks the start of spring and is celebrated in the Month of Magha (January/February). Some of the things to don on Basanta Panchami are:
Worshipping Saraswati: This is the day of the goddess Saraswati, who helps in the knowledge, music, and art.
Wearing Yellow: Yellow is the color of the festival and people wear yellow clothes, flowers and put yellow tilak (mark on forehead) on this day.
Eating Prasad: On the day, prasad is prepared for the worshiping and sharing with people. Kheer and other sweet foods are specially prepared for the festival.
Playing Music and Singing: On this day, people play music and sing devotional songs in honor of Saraswati, and many also learn new musical instruments.
Educational institutions and libraries: On this day, educational institutions and libraries conduct special prayers for Saraswati and students are encouraged to take part in cultural programs.
Flying Kites: In some places in India, people fly kites on this day as a symbol of new beginnings and the arrival of spring.
Community Celebrations: Many communities come together to celebrate Basanta Panchami with traditional rituals, music, and food.
Visit Saraswati temple: There are big celebration in the temples on the day. A lot of people go to pray in the temples.
Visit education institutions: Sports, education and training institutes also celebrate the festival with the students and teachers.
Basanta season in Nepal is spring season – one of the six seasons in Nepal. It is the season of new beginnings, when nature awakens from its winter slumber and the weather becomes warmer and more pleasant. The two months-long season typically falls between the months of February and April. During this time, the trees begin to sprout new leaves, flowers bloom, and the days become longer. It is a time of renewal and rejuvenation, both for nature and for humans. People often take advantage of the warmer weather to spend more time outdoors, and many festivals and celebrations take place during this season.
The Sanskrit verse “Saraswati Maya Drista” is about the goddess and her 12 names in it.