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Saraswati Puja

Saraswati is the Goddess of Knowledge, learning, Arts and Music. The name Saraswati came from "saras" (meaning "flow") and "wati" (meaning "a woman"). So, Saraswati is the symbol of knowledge; its flow (or growth) is like a river and knowledge is supremely alluring, like a beautiful woman.

Saraswati Puja is one of the most popular festivals among Bengalis celebrated with great fun and enthusiasm. The day is also called Basanta Panchami or Sri Panchami, which falls in the Bengali month of Phalgun of the Bangla calendar; that is between January and February of the Gregorian calendar.

The Goddess Saraswati is worshipped with bel leaves, fresh white/yellow spring flowers (mainly marigolds, chrysanthemums, palash), grains of spring (specially, malt), phaag and abhro (herbal powdered colours) and white sandal wood paste. 'Palash' flowers are considered to be the essential component in Saraswati Puja. The puja is considered to be incomplete without using Palash flowers. Books, articles, instruments of music and arts, earthen inkpots and bamboo quills are placed before her. The ink is made from unboiled milk water, colour powder and silver glitter called abhro. Devotees give 'Anjali' to the goddess and pray for their future.

The color yellow plays an important role in this festival. People usually wear yellow garments ('Baasanti') and the Goddess is worshipped dressed in yellow, and yellow sweets are consumed within the families.

The most significant aspect of this day is that children are taught reading and writing their first words on this day - as it is considered an auspicious day to begin a child's education. This ceremony called 'Hatey-Khori'. Saraswati Puja is celebrated in schools, colleges as well as homes. On this day students invoke the blessings of the goddess for success in learning, arts and crafts.

Saraswati Puja is also the day of eating plums. Plums, called ‘kool’ in Bengali are the most sought after fruit on the day of Saraswati Puja. 'Kooler Chatni' is a must for that day. 'Kool' or plum is a fruit of spring time. Hence, it must be eaten on the day of Saraswati Puja.

On this day nobody writes or reads any book, or play any musical instrument. This signifies that the goddess is blessing the books placed in front of her that day. Generally Prasad is distributed amongst the devotees.

In the evening after the Puja is over or the following day, the idol is immersed in the sea, river (mainly Ganges) or in ponds with serenity. Alternatively the deity remains in the family puja room for a year till the next Saraswati Puja.

All children dip their bamboo quills into the earthen inkpots and write "Om Sarswatyai Namah" on the bel leaves or on a plain piece of paper the following day, and rebegin their studies.

Durga Puja
Laxmi Puja
Saraswati Puja
Rabindra-Nazrul Jayanti