Celebrated in Hindu countries such as India, Vasant Panchami is a festival that celebrates the end of winter and the beginning of spring. It is a holiday that takes place during the Magha Shukla Panchami, which is the fifth day of spring. Since it is a public holiday, most schools and government institutions are closed in areas that observe this festival. However, private institutions and businesses usually remain open to the public.
Traditionally, this festival centered around the concept of Sringara and its practice can be traced all the way back to ancient Vedic literature. However, modern observance of this holiday is usually more closely associated with the Hindu goddess of wisdom, learning and the arts, Saraswati. This day is often closely associated with this goddesses birthday and participants worship her on this day to clear their minds and bodies of ignorance and lethargy.
Customs, Traditions and Observances
Celebration of this festival usually involves brightly colored clothing, the liberal use of flowers and the preparation and eating of a special pastry called kesar halva; a pastry that is colored with saffron and made with flour, cardamom powder, sugar and nuts.
The color yellow figures prominently into the celebration of this festival since it is the color that is associated with Saraswati. People will often dress in brightly colored yellow clothing and exchange yellow flowers. This is also the time when the yellow mustard fields of India are in full bloom, which presents a striking backdrop to all of the festivities.
In the Punjab Region of India, Vasant Panchami coincides with the Basant Kite Festival. A religious festival where many children take to the streets to fly colorful kites. People from all around the world often stop by the festival to see the large quantities of kites filling the sky.
Vasant Panchami is a festival that not only celebrates Sringara but also has significant social and cultural significance. It fills its participants with new hope at the arrival of spring and reminds them to value enlightenment and intelligence over greed.