Saraswati Puja amid pandemic

Celebrating the goddess of wisdom


February 16, 2021

/ By / New Delhi

Saraswati Puja amid pandemic

Young girls gather at a house for Saraswati Puja in Kolkata (MIG Photos)

India celebrates a modest but enthusiastic Basant Panchami or Saraswati Puja, dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, learning, arts, music and wisdom amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

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“The Saraswati Puja or Basant Panchami is extra special this year. As this festival is dedicated to the goddess Saraswati, it is also considered an auspicious day for the inauguration of academic institutes and teaching toddlers their first academic lessons. It is really happening in 2021 that Saraswati Puja is marking the reopening of many schools, colleges, academic institutions and millions of students resuming their regular studies after a year of the unfortunate break,” says Harshvardhan Saha, a businessman and resident of Jamshedpur, Jharkhand.

Also celebrated as Basant Panchami, Saraswati Puja marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring and is celebrated on the 5th day of the Hindi month of Magh, roughly corresponding to the period between the end of January and middle of February, as per the Hindu calendar. According to Hindu scriptures, the puja is a celebration of the birthday of Goddess Saraswati. This is also the time for farmers to celebrate as their agricultural fields are full of yellow flowers of the mustard crop.

Basant Panchami is also an auspicious day for taking a holy dip in the river Ganga and many devotees gather at Haridwar. The ghats or river banks in Allahabad and Varanasi are also packed with people.

Saraswati Puja is especially popular in West Bengal, Assam and Odisha. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm in schools and colleges. As the pandemic and lockdown had forced academic institutions to remain shut for a year now, devotees celebrated the festival in their localities and inside their houses in a simpler way than usual.

A priest offering prayer to Goddess Saraswati at a house in Kolkata (MIG Photos)

Famed as the land of art, music and intellectuals, West Bengal holds a special place in this festival. Bengali households perform Saraswati Puja at home, offer flowers to the Goddess Saraswati and chant hymns. Small children are taught to write for the first time during Saraswati Puja.

“While Saraswati Puja is a very auspicious occasion for every Hindu family in the country, for Bengalis, it is a sheer emotion,” says Lagnajita Ray, a school teacher in Kolkata, the state capital.  “We Bengalis have this divine faith that the Goddess Saraswati will bless our children and everyone of any age with tremendous and worthy knowledge. The knowledge to choose wisely to make the right decisions and most importantly the ability to treat everyone as equal. And coming to the dressing up for the occasion, we love wearing anything in yellow,” she adds.



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