"All that begins meets an end,
From the heart of Winters,
Rises the cooing of spring.
The mustard flowers bloom,
Filling the air with love and merriment,
It is Basant here."
The sound of conch shells, people decked out in various shades of yellow, berries from the wild plum tree, Saraswati idols in white and decorated with marigold flowers... Basant Panchami is celebrated in many different ways across India.
This is the day when you are not supposed to touch books, as it signifies that the goddess is blessing all your books, and thus learning. The day is marked by many traditional delicacies like meethe chawal, raj bhog, boondi ke ladoo and kesari sheera.
When you see the sky adorned with kites, it is to celebrate the arrival of spring.
The fifth day of Hindu month of Magh, Shukla Paksha, is referred to as Basant Panchami or Vasant Panchami. According to Hindu mythology it is believed that Lord Brahma created the universe on this day. It is also a day dedicated to Saraswati, the goddess of learning.
Embracing diversity, India celebrates multiculturalism in all its festivals. People celebrate different festivals in different ways with various practises, rituals and more. And this spring festival is no exception. Here's a look at how it is celebrated across India.
Uttarkashi and Rishikesh
Uttarkashi or Somya Kashi, a town in the hills of Uttarakhand, celebrates Basant Panchami by decorating the entrance door of their home with yellow flowers as a gesture of welcome for the season of sowing crops. People wear yellow and prepare lip-smacking delicacies. In Rishikesh, a fair is held every year on the day of the festival within the premises of Bharat Temple, and an idol of Lord Bharat is carried through the town.
Punjab and Haryana
Kite flying is an integral part of celebrations in these north Indian states. Spring carnivals are organised at various places, public feasts are held in the gurdwaras, women sing (and dance) on folk songs and children fly colourful kites. The festive spread includes sweet rice, khichari, sarson ka saag and makke ki roti.
Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh
Goddess Saraswati, the patron of arts, learning and music, is worshipped in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Cultural programmes are organised in educational institutions, songs are sung in honour of the goddess and students recite verses/poetry. Kite flying competitions are also a part of the festivities.
In Bengal, people wake up at dawn, bathe and dress up in yellow clothes, and offer their prayers to goddess Saraswati. Students participate in competitions and cultural programmes in schools and colleges. Kolkata streets are full of young people in brand new clothes, the girls can be seen in sarees and the boys in new kurtas. Pandals are set up with Saraswati idols. People worship the goddess to attain enlightenment through knowledge and learning. Sometimes musical instruments or items used for art and craft are placed near the altar for the blessings of the goddess.
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