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Vasant Panchami / Saraswati Puja

| Angdesh Arts & Culture, Festivals | February 20, 2015

Saraswati Puja
 

Saraswati is the goddess of learning, art and crafts. According to her different specialities she is known by different names like Bakdevi, Biraj, Sarada, Brahmi, Satarupa, Mahasweta, Sarbasukla, Prithudar, Bagiswari and, of course, Saraswati.

This festival is held on the month Magh (January – February). It is a festival celebrated by the youth, particularly students who invoke the blessing of the goddess for success in learning, art and crafts. Through out Ang-Pradesh Saraswati Puja is celebrated in all educational institutions as well as homes. The images of goddess of learning are worshipped.

According to the Matsya Purana, Saraswati evolved from the mouth of Brahma. Such was her beauty and grace that Brahma pursued her. As she fled in different directions a head appeared and so Brahma is attributed with five heads. She was the most unique creation of Brahma. Saraswati is our equivalent of classical goddess Minerva and also the Teutonic Goddess Fira. The moon and the lotus associated with Saraswati are both symbols of eternal womanhood.She is married to Kartikeya.Vashishtha and Vishwamitra, the two sages, were both violently opposed to each other. Viswamitra ordered the river Saraswati to wash away Vashishtha along with all he possessed. Saraswati refused to comply with his command. To punish Saraswati, he turned the water of the river to blood. At the behest of Shiva, the two sages became amicable and once again there was pure water in the river of Saraswati.

Vishnu had three wives – Saraswati, Ganga and Lakshmi. He was tired of Saraswati because of her superior knowledge and gave her away to Brahma. Ganga was too frivolous and so was given to Shiva. Lakshmi quiet and sedate, remained his wife. These were the three Sris.*

Saraswati is one of the seven holy rivers flowing through modern Punjab, Haryana and North Rajasthan.Sociologically the River Saraswati was an important factor in ancient civilization. She is therefore a part of the fertility cult.

* The story of Kalidas has been built around Saraswati. There was a proud and learned princess who rejected all suitors who could not match to her knowledge. The pundits in anger planned to marry her off to a fool. They saw a man cutting the branch on which he was sitting and decided he was the ideal fool for the princess. Kalidas was presented to the princess as a man of wisdom who only spoke in signs. The pundits answered all the princess’s question by interpreting Kalidas’s signs. The two were married but on the wedding night the princess realized she had been duped. She kicked Kalidas out of her bed. He in
sorrow and shame went to commit suicide. The Goddess Saraswati appeared and asked him to take a dip in the river. As he emerged from the river Kalidas was transformed. He began to recite verses in praise of the Goddess. Unfortunately for him he began to praise her beauty not from her feet upwards but from her breasts downwards. Saraswati in anger cursed Kalidas for his audacity. He would die in an ignonimous place.

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