Vasant Panchami or Basant Panchami presents the glory and splendour of Spring. It is a Hindu festival, celebrated especially in the Northern parts of India, announcing the arrival of Spring.
While it is a festival of seasonal importance and social significance, the religious worship and its fesivities have an underlying spiritual essence. A festival attributed to Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge, Basant Panchami is also celebrated as Saraswati Puja in the North.
Vasant Panchami Celebration
Vasant Panchami is celebrated on the 5th day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Magh, according to the Hindu calendar. The term ‘Vasant’ would mean ‘Spring’ and ‘Panchami’ would mean, ‘Fifth day’.
People also offer Pitri-Tarpan, worship to the ancestors on this day. It is also considered as an auspicious day to initiate children into their first syllable, on the day attributed to the Goddess of learning and knowledge.
While Saraswati Puja, is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati worship during Vijaya Dasami across India, during Navratri, North India observes it again during Vasant Panchami. Since the day is considered as Goddess Saraswati’s birthday, Goddess Saraswati is worshipped. Yellow clothes and sweet-meats are offered to the Goddess by people, while they themselves adorning Yellow clothes.
The Arrival of Spring
Basant Panchami announces the arrival of Spring, whose fullest splendour is celebrated on Holi festival. Signs of fresh life is seen in trees and crops as well as in coloured blooms that mark the advent of Spring.
Celebrating the Spring season, the sky is dotted with coloured kites. Flying kites is one of the integral part of the festival. The festival is also associated with the youth, as Spring time promises splendour, joy and new life. The arrival of Spring ushers in new hope and joy for a new living.
In Ferozepur (Punjab) especially, flying kites attracts people from across the world.
The festival bears spiritual significance as in all other Hindu festivals. The arrival of Spring signifies the end of the days of gloom and awakening into new joy. The spiritual significance is that the festival symbolises the end of the days of ignorance and awakening into spiritual enlightenment.
Goddess Saraswati, is portrayed as the Goddess of Knowledge according to Hinduism. She is the one who bestows the knowledge required for spiritual enlightenment. Hence She is worshipped on the day of this festival.
So let us welcome the eternal spring of perennial bliss in our lives, understanding the the spiritual significance of Vasant Panchami.
Basant Panchami Significance
Basant Panchami is a popular Hindu festival dedicated to goddess Saraswati, who is the deity of knowledge, art and music. This day falls on the fifth day of the Hindu month of Magh, which is also the first day of spring. Goddess Saraswati denotes serenity and calmness. She is generally shown seated on a white lotus, wearing a pure white silk sari and holding a book in her lower left hand. The eyes of the goddess are full of compassion. Her four hands denote four facets of human personality namely mind, intellect, alertness and ego. The lotus on her hand symbolizes true knowledge. Her ride is a white swan which is known for its peculiar capability of separating water from the milk. The swan indicates that we should have the ability to discriminate the bad from the good.
Basant Panchami, also known as the Saraswati Day, is celebrated by the Hindus across the world with great enthusiasm and festivities. The devotees visit temples which are filled with various types of religious activities. Yellow color is given prominence on this day and people dress up in yellow garments and perform rituals. Yellow represents spiritual knowledge, increasing the significance of the festival. People eat yellow sweets and distribute the same among friends and relatives. People feed Brahmans on this occasion and also perform Pitra-Tarpan, the traditional ancestral worship. Basant Panchami is the day when children are taught their first words, making it an auspicious occasion which marks the beginning of their learning process. On this day, schools and colleges organize special worships for goddess Saraswati. Traditionally children place their books on the altar, at the goddess’s feet. No one is allowed to touch the books during this period as they believe that goddess Saraswati is blessing the books.
Devotees believe that worshipping of goddess Saraswati will lead to spiritual enlightenment. It is generally said that there is no comparison between a king and a learned person as the king is honored only in his land but a learned person is respected everywhere. Saintly and learned people who are inclined towards spirituality know the importance of worshipping goddess Saraswati. Other activities performed on this day include worshipping of Kamadeva, the God of Love. On this occasion, people offers prayers to the Sun God and the deities associated with Ganges. The festivities of Basant Panchami include kite flying and a kite festival is observed in Ferozepur, Punjab. Basant Panchami marks the arrival of spring and can be noted from the colored blooms in trees and crops. This is the period when mango flowers start blossoming on trees, representing the beginning of a new life. Basant Panchami spiritually signifies that the days of ignorance and gloom are over and the period of joy and spiritual awakening has begun.
Celebration in different city’s
Basant Festival of Punjab
Punjab is one such state where every festival is celebrated with full swing and also makes tourist attracts towards its festivals. One such festival is Basant festival which is celebrated for the arrival of spring season. During this festival one can see skies flooded with different colors of kites. This festival is especially celebrated with kite flying and dancing. This festival is also called as Basant Panchami. When you Punjab during this festival you will find fields blooming with mustered.
Usually, during basant panchami people of Punjab wear yellow costumes and also fly yellow color kites all over the skies which make it look beautiful. All shops in Punjab and its village are being decorated and people can also enjoy fairs. These fairs are being organized by Gurudwaras to attract more and more people towards this fair. There are free Langar (Foods) are being arranged for people who visit this fair.
There are songs, dance in villages and in night time people gather to celebrate this festival by serving sweets to each other.
In Bengal, it is called the Saraswati Puja and over here, the Hindu temples are full of activities on this day. People worship her with flowers, especially with basaka, and decorations are made chiefly with `Ganda` to represent the season – Vasanta. Even here, all ladies attire themselves in yellow and worship her. Vasant panchami celebrations are free from boisterous processions and street scenes. However, in Bengal her clay images are taken in procession and are immersed in rivers or tanks.
Festival of Basant on the arrival of spring is celebrated each year in almost entire Pakistan especially in Lahore and its surrounding areas. The girls and boys wearing yellow dresses and danced with the beat of Dhole that’s called Bhangra, exchanging gifts express their love for each other through different ways. The night before and on the day of this fabulous festival the sky is covered with all kind of beautiful kites large and small that decorates the sky in a glorious and pleasant way. It looked that a painter has painted the sky with beautiful colours.
From the last few years it is estimated that festival of basant is one of the largest occasion. People live far away from each other joined their relatives and friends on that day. It is said that Lahories are very excited for Basant that has made the people of other cities excited too. People from other cities specially came to Lahore to see the celebration as well as excitement of lahories. Large variety of kites and ‘dor’ of different quality made available in the market.
Shouts of Bo-Kata are heard from all around when youngster coming out with their kites on roofs and streets. Parks are specially decorated and different stalls are held there. Children are seemed very happy at this festival although they don’t know kite flying but it’s a source of enjoyment for them. Women are also side by side with males in this festival. On some of the roofs they are flying kites or helping males in holding Dor, some are busy in cooking delicious food and some are busy in gossips.
Parties are held at Basant night. Foreigners from different countries come in Pakistan to see the arrangements of people. There are certain families and people who specially invite their friends from India to celebrate this festival with them. They enjoyed HallaGulla and spicy eatables that is specially made for this occasion. Sounds of music and Dhol, shouts of Bo-Kata make the atmosphere very pleasant and there is a smile on everyone’s face.
Dresses of women on this occasion are like “Chooridar” pajamas, Saris, Jeans, Trousers and Garrars in different yellow shades. Children make different cartoon on their faces. Roof of factories, buildings etc are reserved one month ago or more. Roofs and parks are decorated with different colourful tents. Special arrangement of food like ‘Chicken Tikkas’, ‘Buffe’, ‘Seikh Kabab’,’halim’ and other typical specialties with green tea are made available.
Moreover special television shows are arranged and different celebrities are invited to entertain the public watching television. The hotels are full to capacity on account of people coming to celebrate Basant in Lahore. People from different countries as well as cities dominate the Lahore on this festival.
Now a day’s people are very excited towards this festival. Although the Pakistan government has banned to fly kites due to some horrible incidents but still people think that it’s a way to celebrate their happiness with others. But the decision is upon us whether we want our happiness or other sorrows of lost of lives that occurs due to this festival.
Basant Panchami Kites Festival
On arrival of Basant Panchmi the chill of winter season is on its departure. People who where hiding in the blankets and quilt, feel a new energy flowing in themselves. A new zeal of life can be seen coming in various animal, birds, tree and plants. Colorful flowers decorate this earth beautifully. People worship Lord to thank him for sending the spring season which gives relief from the chilling cold weather. Then, everyone express there happiness in variant manner. Flying kites is one of the modes to show the joy.
Gujarat International Festival of Flying Kite
On the occasion of Makar Sankrati, every year an international kites festival is celebrated in Gujarat. In this festival, people fond of flying kites, come to participate from different countries in addition to Indians. The enthusiasm and joy for this festival begins many days before Makar Sankranti. On this day, different sizes and colored kites are seen flying in the sky displaying unique movements. Some folk songs of Gujarat mention about the competition of flying kites. Likewise in many regions of India, kite flying competition is organised on the day of Makar Sankranti. A person is known the better player by the number of kites he cut, in this contest. The winner symbol is held by the person who cuts the maximum number of kites.
Vasant Panchmi Patang Utsav of Punjab and Haryana
As like Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana are the two other charming states of India. Here, people believe in celebrating every festival and season with full joy and happiness. Art of living is well known by people living here. Any occasion of happiness is celebrated together. Whatever may be the occasion, arrangement and preparation of songs is always ready. There is no kite flying competition organised at this place, like Gujarat. But, people here celebrate kite festival on Basant Panchami.
The tradition of flying kite is being carried on from long time back, in Punjab. As the Gujarat’s international festival of flying kites, Punjab and Haryana have the sky filled with beautiful and attractive kites. Kites are imported from China, on this occasion. Manjha (sharp thread) is really significant for flying kites. To cut the thread of someone’s kite, Manjha of good quality is required. Manjha is prepared from glass and a sticky substance. This paste is applied on a raw yarn, making it strong and giving sharpness to cutting normal thread of kite.
Basant Panchami and Birth of Ram Singh Kuka
In Punjab, through kite festival (Patang Utsav) on Basant Panchami, people remember the martyr saint Ram Singh Kuka. He was born on Vasant Panchami. He was a soldier of Ranjeet Singh’s army and later he converted himself to a saint. Listening his thoughts and views, many people became his adherent. He did many works for the improvement of society. Britishers killed his followers and had sent him to Mandalay jail of Burma. Bearing the harsh tortures, he died there.
Basant Panchami and Kites Festival in Pakistan
On Jshne Bahara, that is Basant Panchami, Patang Utsav is celebrated with full joy and excitement. In Lahore of Pakistan, the competition of flying kites is carried on from morning till late night. The story of great Haqiqat Rai, resident of Lahore, is famous behind the celebration of Vasant Panchami. It is said, there lived a man named Haqiqat who used to teach in school. Once the principal of school, Mulla ji, went out. Haqiqat was teaching the students. Children were indulged in other activities instead of listening to him. On this, Haqiqat gave the swear of Goddess Durga. Students started making fun of Durga Mata. He felt bad seeing this behaviour of students. He said, “if i say bad about Bibi Fatima, how will you feel?”
Students complained to Mulla ji on returning that, Haqiqat abused Bibi Fatima. This issue reached to Kazi and Haqiqat was forced to accept Islam. On refusal, Haqiqat was sentenced to death. It is said, as the executioner ran sword on the neck of Haqiqat, head of Haqiqat’s head went to the sky. On Basant Panchami, people of Lahore give a salutation of his head by flying kites in sky.