Cover Art: of Goddess Saraswati by Riya Mukherjee
Asato ma sadgamaya, tamaso ma jyotirgamaya, mrityorma amritam gamaya. Om shanti. – A prayer to Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and music. It means O mother, lead us from lies towads truth, from darkness towards light, from death towards eternity.
Hello friends I greet you all on the occasion of Basant Panchami a very auspicious day for the Hindus as it marks the beginning of spring, after a long, dry and dreary winter. The barren trees starts rejuvenating itself with new leaves, buds and flowers. In India, specially in Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa (eastern states of India) the festival is celebrated by worshipping Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge. As the annual and board examinations are usually round the corner, the students enthusiastically take part in festivities. Pleasing the Goddess for good grades always gets the top position in their priority list of blessings.
In India the arrival of spring is marked by all the fruit bearing trees laden with freshly bloomed blossoms specially the mango trees. The mango and palash flowers (a spring flower) are offered to Goddess along with other flowers. An assortment of fruits ( Indian berry or bair, a compulsory) and sweets are also offered to the Goddess. Mother is worshipped in almost every home, schools and colleges. People offer color (abir) of various hues at the feet of the Goddess as a precursor to Holi, the festival of colour (another celebration of spring which falls exactly forty days from today).
Friends, if I don’t mention that this day is also celebrated as Indianized Valentines Day, specially in Bengal, than this column remains utterly incomplete. Only the witness could vouche what a veritable feast it is, to the eyes, seeing all those teens, pre teens and young adults, adorning the special attire specially meant for the occasion. The dress code is every thing yellow, the girls turn out almost compulsorily in various shades of yellow ‘sarees’. There are even smaller version of it available for the little ones who can’t handle the longer and complicated ones. The boys turn out in traditional, crisp kurta – pajamas. Just to see them enjoying themselves moving around in droves feels like radiant flowers meandering all round.
After two long years of containment, let’s pray to the Goddess to free the children from the bondage of pandemic and they may get their natural, carefree childhood back and enjoy the festivities with full gusto it so deserve .
I wish you all a happy ‘Basant Panchami’. May this spring fill your lives with cheerful colours of happiness, peace and prosperity. Stay safe and healthy.
Adieu for now.