This “Panchami” is also known as Saraswati Day, because it is believed that on this day the Goddess was born. As Diwali is to Shri Lakshmi and Navaratri is to Shri Durga, Vasant Panchami is to Shri Saraswati, the Goddess of art, creativity, knowledge and learning. She represents the free flow of wisdom and consciousness. She is the Mother of the Vedas, and chants to Her often begin and end Vedic lessons.
Saraswati literally means “the flowing one”. In the Rigveda it is said She represents a river and the deity presiding over it. In later mythology, Shri Saraswati was identified with Vach or Speech. The “flowing one” in an allegorical sense may mean speech also – perfect speech which denotes intelligence.
On this Vasant Panchami day, Lord Brahma is said to have created His consort Goddess Saraswati, infused speech into Her and bestowed the Veena in Her hands. She was thus named as Veena Vandini (veena player) and Vani Dayyani (recipient of speech). As the spouse of Brahma and the Goddess of wisdom and eloquence, She is known by various names such as Veenapani (holding the veena), Sharada (giver of essence), Vagisvari (mistress of speech), Brahmi (wife of Brahma) and Mahavidya (knowledge supreme).
The colour yellow is given special importance on Vasant Panchami. On this day, Shri Saraswati is dressed in yellow garments and worshipped. Books, articles, instruments of music and arts are placed before Her. In the evening after the Puja is over, the idol is immersed in the sea with serenity.
In all educational institutions of music, arts and science in India, Saraswati Puja is observed with great reverence. Saraswati Puja is also performed during the Navaratri or Dusshera. In India, Hindus prefer to wear yellow clothes on this holy day. Sweets of yellowish hues are distributed among relatives and friends.
Children are taught their first words on this day, for it is considered an auspicious day to begin to learn how to read and write.
Vasant means “spring”, and Vasant Panchami heralds springtime in India, a time of renewal and creativity of life in nature.