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Shri Saraswati playing a veenaThe festival of Vasant Panchami is celebrated every year on the fifth day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Magha (January – February).

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.

(Photograph: freewebs.com)

Clouds

How blessed we are to have Nature’s bounty ─
The rolling seas, the boundless sky, the Earth
Which provides us with food and shelter
And yields untold riches for use by Man.

No need to ask; no need to beg or grovel or plead.
The bounteous Earth just gives and gives and gives.
Yet, if we do not have respect for the Earth
And use and destroy in the name of greed
Mother Earth unleashes her fury.

The crux is in the balance ─ the ability to take
With respect, to make amends when we can,
To know that Earth’s gifts are irreplaceable,
To acknowledge our puniness in the face of Might.

We know too well the dangers and horrors
Of vengeful Earth, the unruly consequence
Of Man’s pride, greed and arrogance.
We need to find a different way.

With respect for Mother Earth and all Her gifts
We can live in harmony with the Earth
And with all the creatures She upholds.
God grant that we change our wasteful ways.

Melody Anderson

(Photograph: geekphilosopher.com)

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