Click through the slideshow to see photos of celebration of Saraswati Puja and Basant Panchami:
Saraswati Puja is celebrated on Jan. 28, 2012 by Hindus all over the world. This festival glorifies the Hindu goddess Saraswati, patron of knowledge, music and the arts. It is celebrated on the fifth day of the Hindu lunar month of Magh. This celebration coincides with the festival of Basant Panchami, which signifies the end of the winter season, and the beginning of spring. Saraswati Puja is celebrated with greater vigor in eastern India, whereas Basant Panchami is celebrated with great zest in north India.
[Scroll down for lyrics and translation of prayers to goddess Saraswati.]
Yellow is the predominant color of Basant Panchami as flowers bloom and the harvest ripens. Men and women also wear yellow clothing on this day, making it a very colorful day. A kite festival is held each year to welcome the spring. Young boys and girls participate enthusiastically, making the sky a colorful sight.
Hindus believe that Saraswati is the goddess of learning. She is considered to be the essence of purity and posseses the knowledge of the Vedas (Hindu sacred texts). Thus, Saraswati Puja is an especially joyous day for students of all disciplines. On this day learning is suspended as many schools and colleges in India put together special worship ceremonies to honor goddess Saraswati.
One of the most famous prayers recited to goddess Saraswati on the occasion of Saraswai Puja is the Saraswati Vandana (invocation). Below are the words of the mantra in Sanskrit and a translation:
Ya Kundendu Tushaara Haara Dhavalaa; Ya Shubhra Vastraavrita;
Ya Veena Vara Danda Manditakara; Ya Shveta Padmaasana
Ya Brahma Achyutaha Shankara Prabrithibhih; Devai Sadaa Poojitha;
Saa Maam Paatu Saraswathi Bhagavati; Nishyesha Jyaadyaapaha
Translation: Oh Goddess Saraswati, who is as fair as a jasmine flower, the moon or a snow flake, who is dressed in white and whose hands are adorned by the veena (musical instrument), who is seated in a white lotus, to whom Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara pray, please protect us.