Basant Panchami

When the fields are mustard yellow, it is the time for the spring festival Basant Panchmi in reverence to Goddess Saraswati. When the berries ripen yellow, the Dhhak and Ashoka are at their best, the students in particular pay homage to the goddess of knowledge, Saraswati, the goddess of intelligence, wisdom and knowledge of all arts, science, music and dancing. Basant season is the king of all seasons because this season is free from the intense heat of the summer, from the shivering colds of the winter and from the havoc of rain. The atmosphere is calm and equanimous. This season is also important because Sri Krishna himself has described this as flowering season, in his magnificence.

Basant Panchami festival falling on the fifth day of dark lunar days in Magh (February) has been observed as a festival for worship of Saraswati since the Vedic and Puranic age. On this day Brahma created Saraswati to dislodge the dumb insipidity of the creation. By bestowing a Veena in her hands, he allotted the function of speech through her to the world. She was thus named as "Veena Vandini" and "Vani Dayyani" (the Veena player and the awardee of speech).

By the grace of Saraswati, not only men but also gods can recognize and are made conversant with good behaviour, intelligence, influence, brilliance, music, speech, poetry, and differentiation between proper and improper. Therefore there is the tradition of the worship of Goddess Saraswati on Basant Panchmi festival. The worship is with sweet smelling flowers and powdered sandalwood. On this auspicious occasion, great saints and teachers admitted Brahmin children to their schools for teaching. Sri Krishna also worshipped Saraswati on this day by virtue of which he becomes an expert in sixteen arts and in all others. Even in the modern days, especially in Bengal it is on this day that the kids are made to start education, so that they receive blessings from Goddess Saraswati, after her worship. In the times past, many kings and rulers used to organize literary seminars and symposia; poets, dramatists and writers were felicitated and rewarded on this occasion. Great dramas of Kalidasa and other dramatists were played before the audience on this festival.

The scientific reason for the observance of Basant Panchmi festival is that this festival gives us a warning to bring about a change in our food and clothing. With the arrival of Basant season, the body begins gaining extra energy, creation of a light fluid in the blood. Ayurvedic practitioners have described this season as relishing and passionate. The fluid created in the blood influences sexual desire. They have, therefore advised gradual reduction in the hot and inciting foods after this season, which affect our health adversely. They have advised the massage of the body with mango sprout, on this festival, as beneficial. By its consumption, cold, cough and bile are got rid off, diseases of the blood are eliminated and destroy effects of the poison.

Thus Basant Panchmi festival is an important festival for us all; which we must all celebrate.

Basant Pancimu is the festival, observed on a large scale in Punjab and the North when the mustard crop is ripe. The people put on garments in yellow colour. They cook yellow rice. The famous folk dance 'Bhangra' of Punjab glorifies the congregations on this festival. This is a festival of jubilation when the farmers are rich with their yield.

Basant in Kashmir

In Kashmir during the Basant Panchmi or spring festival, all who can do so appear in yellow robes, as yellow is believed to be a colour particularly acceptable to the sight of the gods in spring time. At this period the Rajputs give themselves up to even greater license than usual in relation to food and drink, and even the most sedate people burst into songs in public in testimony to their praise of nature.

Basant in Assam

This spring festival is specially honoured by the forest tribes of Assam. It is as gay as a carnival and while it lasts, the women especially the maidens, enjoy unusual liberty, for many days before the actual festival, the young people in the villages may be seen moving about in groups, gaily dressed or forming circles, in the midst of which the prettiest girls dance with their long hair loose on their shoulders. The first day of the festival is devoted to interchanges of visits, the next to the bathing and on the third day, the inhabitants of several groups of villages, old and young, meet at some appointed place, and give themselves up to thorough enjoyment. The girls on these occasions, do not like to dance before the men of their own village.

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