Basant Panchami, Saraswati Puja and historical journey of India .

Basant Panchami, Saraswati Puja are not only the holy festivals of Hindus, but they also reflect the entire ancient “INDIANNESS”
The oldest signs of Hindu civilization are visible in this festival even today.

According to the Hindu calendar, the seasons have been divided into six types.
These are:-
1.SPRING (BASANT) 2. SUMMER (GRISMA)3. MONSOON(VARSHA ) 4. AUTUMN (SHARAD)5. WINTER (HEMANTA )6.WINTER (SHISHIRA)

When spring (BASANT) arrives yellow mustard flowers start appearing all over North India.

yellow mustard flowers

BASANT PANCHMI

Spring is called the king of all seasons. For this reason it is also addressed by the nameBasantraj.

There is neither too much heat nor too much cold in the spring season, the weather is very pleasant. In the spring season new leaves appear on the trees, new buds appear on the flowers, in a nutshell nature can be seen in its most beautiful form.

The festival of Basant Panchami is celebrated in the joy of the arrival of the spring season.

It is customary to wear yellow clothes on Basant Panchami, yellow clothes are probably a symbol of embracing the color of nature, because with the arrival of spring, yellow mustard flowers start appearing all over North India.

In rural areas, it seems as if the mother earth has worn yellow clothes. Mother Saraswati is worshiped on Basant Panchami, for this reason. Basant Panchami is also celebrated as Saraswati Puja Day.

According to the Puranas, Lord Krishna was pleased with Goddess Saraswati and gave her a boon that she would also be worshiped on Vasant Panchami, and since then Saraswati, the goddess of learning, was also worshiped on Vasant Panchami, which continues unabated till date.

Image : Wikimedia

Maharaja Ranjit Singh holding court outside near the Golden Temple in Amritsar with everyone dressed in Basant (yellow)

Image :From Wikimedia Commons

Maharaja Ranjit Singh on horseback with attendants with all dressed in Basant (yellow).

GODDESS SARASWATI

The Veena in the hands of Goddess Saraswati is a symbol of artistry and music. The book in the hands of Goddess Saraswati gives knowledge and the rosary gives the sense of piety and religion. The vehicle flamingo is the symbol of beauty and melodious voice.

GODDESS SARASWATI is considered as the goddess of knowledge .(the goddess of literature, music, arts etc.)

The description of Goddess Saraswati can be found in quite detail in ancient Hindu scriptures. The oldest description of Goddess Saraswati is given in Rigveda, the oldest of all the 4 Vedas.

VEDAS: Vedas are the most ancient religious texts of Hindu religion. There are four Vedas. 1.Rigveda 2.Yajurveda 3.Samaveda 4. Atharvaveda . Rigveda is the most ancient of them (Rigveda was composed around 1700 BC).

BEST OF MOTHERS, THE BEST OF RIVERS , BEST OF GODDESSES , SARASWATI.

RIGVEDA

Best of mothers :- In Hindu religion, the place of mother has always been considered the highest and most worshipable, therefore all Hindu goddesses are depicted and described as mothers.

The Best of Rivers :- In ancient times in India there was a river named Saraswati which was considered the most sacred of all the rivers. It is said that this river disappeared because of drying up around 2600 BC.

Best of Goddesses :- In Hinduism, knowledge has always been considered supreme, so it is natural to give the highest place to the goddess of knowledge.

In two other major branches of Hinduism namely-: Buddhism and Jainism, Goddess Saraswati has been praised with all respect.
Since ancient times, India has always been known as the land of knowledge, this belief got further strength during the time of Buddha. During that time, when foreign students studying in major universities of India returned to their motherland after receiving education, they carried many Indian traditions with them.

Because of this, as Buddhism spread, so did the worship of Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge. This resulted in the Chinese and the Japanese also worshiping Goddess Saraswati.

OM SARASWATYAI SVAHA  (Sanskrit)

ON SARASOBATEIEI SOWAKA (JAPANESE)

IMAGE : WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

A sculpture of Benzaiten, Goddess of arts, Saraswati, Hase-dera Temple, Kamakura Japan.

IMAGE : WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

1150 CE Hoysaleswara temple Halebidu Karnataka, Dancing Saraswati.

INDIA’S LOST SARASWATI SCRIPT .

The pictographic script found in the Indus Valley Civilizations is also called the Saraswati writing .

Seals found in Saraswati civilization excavation.

The development of Saraswati civilization started about 8000 years ago. According to historians these seals date back to 15oo BC. Some figures are made on these seals and the text is written in Saraswati script, unfortunately historians have not been able to read Saraswati script till date.

THE SARASWATI CIVILIZATION OR INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION

This civilization is also known as the Indus Valley Civilization due to the disappearance of the Saraswati River thousands of years ago and due to its present location on the banks of the Indus River.
Historians like B. B. Lal, Dales, Danino, Kenoyer referred to this civilization as Saraswati Valley Civilization due to the fact that more than 60% area of the seven major cities found in Indus Valley Civilization and 80% of the remains found in Mohenjodaro were found on the banks of the lost Saraswati River.

AREA AROUND THE LOST SARASWATI RIVER

THE SARASWATI CIVILIZATION OR Indus Valley Civilization is considered one of the most ancient civilizations of the world. According to research done in recent years, this civilization is at least 8,000 years old. This civilization was spread in the western part of South Asia, which is currently known as Pakistan and Western India.

The Indus Valley Civilization was the most advanced among other contemporary civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and China.

Evidence of worship of trees, rivers, earth, animals is also found in some seals found in the Saraswati valley civilization.
It is quite possible that like the river Saraswati, the tradition of seeing and worshiping the Saraswati script as a mother has started from the time of Saraswati civilization itself.

GODDESS SARASWATI WORSHIP IN MODERN TIME

Idol worship was prohibited during the Islamic rule, but this ban was completely removed during the British rule, the tradition of celebrating Saraswati Puja once again gained momentum during the British rule. Another reason for the popularity of Saraswati Puja festival was the establishment of modern educational institutions during the British rule.

Hindus soon adopted the British education system and many educational institutions were also established by rich Hindus, Goddess Saraswati is considered the goddess of knowledge, so gradually the worship of Goddess Saraswati started in educational institutions. After the independence of India, the expansion of Saraswati Puja happened more rapidly which was natural. Presently Saraswati Puja is a festival celebrated in educational institutions across whole India.

The idol of Goddess Saraswati is made from clay and bamboo. Every year a new idol is made on the day of Basant Panchami.

The festival of Basant Panchami and Saraswati Puja is banned in Pakistan.

What an irony it is that celebrating Basant Panchami and Saraswati Puja is a crime at the place where mostly Saraswati Civilization remains are found, the place where Saraswati river used to flow, where the Saraswati script was born.

After the partition of India-Pakistan, Pakistan became an Islamic country, so Saraswati Puja was banned here, but the tradition of thousands of years of celebrating the festival of Basant Panchami continued till recent years with some changes.

The spring festival in Pakistan was limited to wearing yellow clothes and flying kites, but a few years ago kite flying was also declared un-Islamic, possibly due to Taliban influence.

If viewed with this perspective, Saraswati Puja is not just a Hindu festival, but the history of the entire Hindu religion, and the saga of gradual development of India’s history is stored in itself. Definitely someday historians will succeed in reading Saraswati script and we all will get a chance to get acquainted with many untold, untouched aspects of the Saraswati civilization.

Author: nitinsingh

Postgraduate in International relations. Experience in writing in various journals, from BBC WORLD NEWS SERVICE to India's one of the oldest hindi daily. I like to write on international relations, religion, religious conflict. Social media has bridged the distance between writing and reading. Now writing is not just the expression of one's own thought, but also knowing the expression of people on various subject.

One thought on “Basant Panchami, Saraswati Puja and historical journey of India .”

  1. Thank you, Nithin, for the fascinating lesson in history of India. Spring is my most loved time of the year too.
    Thank you for the presentation.
    Joanna

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