INDIA INFO: India - Saraswati Puja Festival

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Saraswati Puja Festival

Saraswati Puja is the ritual worship of the goddess Saraswati. The festival is celebrated in the month of January-February in India. Saraswati is considered the goddess of knowledge and learning. Saraswati literally means 'the flowing one'.

Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom, art and music is the daughter of lord Shiva and goddess Durga. She is clothed in white as a symbol of purity. Since Saraswati is the goddess of learning, this festival has special significance for the students and they pray most enthusiastically to her.

The color yellow is given special importance on this day. On this day, Saraswati is dressed in yellow garments and worshipped. People prefer to wear yellow clothes on this holy day. Sweets of yellowish color are distributed among relatives and friends. The youngest girl of the family wears a yellow saree as a custom. All the young people living in the locality gather in the pandal to celebrate the occasion. Devotional music blares in the pandals and the children enjoy themselves.

Saraswati puja is an important occasion in West Bengal. The day has been declared a state holiday. The pujas are held in every locality and in a most homes as well. There are various rituals that are followed in the worshipping of goddess Saraswati. Early in the morning, at dawn everyone goes to the pandal and offers “anjali". It is considered as the most important aspect of the celebrations. “Anjali” is a ritual of offering flowers to the goddess along with the chanting of the sacred hymns while wearing yellow clothes.

This puja is held in almost all the educational institutions. Unlike other festivals, Saraswati puja is held with reverence. The atmosphere is quiet and somber. There is no animal slaughter on this day. Goddess Saraswati is considered pure and in Bengal she is dressed up in white to represent learning and wisdom. Many Bengali families especially those which have students, bring her idol at home and worship the goddess to invoke her blessings.

However, nobody is supposed to study or read any book on this day. All the reading materials are placed at the feet of the goddess, and prayers are offered to her. Delicious meals are prepared and students celebrate this festival with great reverence. There is no pomp and splendor but simplicity and dignity in the celebrations.

The most significant aspect of this day is that children are taught their first words on this day, since it is considered an auspicious day to begin formal education. Thus Saraswati puja is one of the quiet and somber festivals of India, and West Bengal being more artistically inclined than other states, celebrates it with much reverence.

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