Be Passionately Curious, Let Knowledge Flow
Oh, yes, the spring season is just around the corner. Bringing with it a cool soothing breeze, a maddening fragrance of flowers even in a metro city, and the myriad hues of nature in the countryside.
And it brings in Basant Panchami, the one festival which students and teachers all over look forward to with eagerness though it happens to be a full working day. As the teachers, especially women in yellow attire, move around mingling with students informally the students too feel that they are, in fact, friends! And there is no teaching on this day! The festivities take minimum organisation and arrangements. For the special deity for this day, Goddess Sri Saraswati is known to, be benign and supportive. And this is one last occasion for the students to plea for forgiveness from the Goddess for all the omissions and commissions they may have committed during the year and requesting to be merciful with easy papers in the exams starting shortly.
If you observe most of the festivals in India are formed around seasons and the movements of Sun and Moon. While Earth takes a bit over 365 days to go around the Sun, making a Solar year, Moon takes about a little over 28 days to circle Earth making a Lunar month. Which means a Lunar year of twelve months is short of Solar year by about 10/11 days. But it is easier to observe the phases of the moon in terms of 14/15 days and it is simpler to keep the festival days locking on to the lunar calendar. Which means the festivals could move backward by about 10/11 days with each succeeding year. If it is permitted to carry on interminably it could cause a lot of confusion with a spring festival falling into winter and a monsoon melody getting into a harsh summer! Our ancestors have solved this by adding one additional Lunar month of 33 days after every three years calling it ‘Adhikmas which is considered a ‘null month’ with no festivities permitted in it. Thereafter the Lunar month aligns back with the Solar year!. There are however certain festivals based on Sun’s movements like Lohri/Makar Sankranti or Baisakhi on fixed days like markers. The other festival days move about happily up and down.
Let us go back to Basant Panchami.
This is a special festival dedicated to Goddes of Learning Ma Saraswati which falls on the fifth day of the month Magh. She is always seen as an embodiment of wisdom, arts, language, books and writing (well, exams too) and revered with veneration all over India by Hindus. Saraswati is the giver of creative energies and innovative spirits. In many places, children are started with their Aksharabhyas from this auspicious day. People in Bengal, Bihar, Assam and Odisha. and most of the Northern plains offer special pujas for the Goddess and visit temples. In Andhra Pradesh, it is celebrated as Sri Panchami. Even in Bangladesh Basant Panchami is celebrated in educational institutions
In Punjab, the day is known as Basant and traditionally kite flying is a very popular event on the day. one can see hundreds of colored kites flying all around the sky and children running around unreeling strings It is practiced even in Pakistan, especially in Lahore. People wear a yellow dress and yellow turbans on this occasion. It is an auspicious day for Sikhs too and Maharaja Ranjit Singh initiated celebrating Basant in a big way. A number of country fairs and traditional athletic events and games are held on days following Basant Panchami. In fact, this signifies the joy in the minds of people welcoming the milder pleasant spring season coming after harsh cold winter with short days and long nights. The first indication of spring is the sudden elongation of the bright day time.
Yellow is the special flavor of Basant, In fact, yellow is always associated with spring season.everywhere. If one travels by train from East to West or from North to South in the long distance trains of India one can see miles and miles of fields filled with bright yellow flowers of mustard swaying away in the breeze. it gives a joyful sight for the traveler. Yellow manifests itself in other forms too. people prepare yellow colored food with dal, halwa, sweets etc and share with others.
Wish you all a Happy Basant Panchami. :