Saraswati Puja

Saraswati Puja is the first of two spring festivals celebrated in the Hindu Culture. Saraswati is the great mother of the ancient Vedas, Veda Mata, and their personification, guiding the Rishis of old. Saraswati is considered as the goddess of knowledge, wisdom, music art and learning. [6]

The earliest known mention of Saraswati comes from Rigveda [1]. In Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata, Saraswati is called the mother of the Vedas, and later as the celestial creative symphony who appeared when Brahma created the universe. [2]

She is a part of the trinity (Tridevi) of Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Parvati. All the three forms exist in conjunction with the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva to create, maintain, and regenerate the Universe, respectively. [1]

We consider her to be born on this day.

She is celebrated as a feminine deity with healing and purifying powers of abundant, flowing waters, in Book 10 of the Rigveda (10.17), as follows:

अपो अस्मान मातरः शुन्धयन्तु घर्तेन नो घर्तप्वः पुनन्तु |

apo asman matarah shundhyantu ghartena no ghartapvohah punantu

विश्वं हि रिप्रं परवहन्ति देविरुदिदाभ्यः शुचिरापूत एमि ||

vishwam hi ripram parvahanti devirudidabhyaha suchiraputa ami

May the waters, the mothers, cleanse us.

May they who purify with butter, purify us with butter.

For these goddesses bear away defilement,

I come up out of them pure and cleansed. [1]

saraswati Saraswati idol carved of black stone from Chalukya dynasty (12th century CE). Idol on display in Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai

The importance of Ma Saraswati is significant in every students life in Hindu culture. According to a popular notion in the Hindu society it is said that “If Laxmi (Goddess of Wealth) gets angry, she might come back, but if Saraswati gets angry, she never comes back." Which basically symbolizes that lost wealth can be earned back. but knowledge can never be regained once lost.

There are many temples dedicated to Saraswati around the world. Some notable temples include the Gnana Saraswati Temple in Basar on the banks of the River Godavari, the Warangal Saraswati and Shri Saraswati Kshetramu temples in Medak, Telangana. In Karnataka, one of many Saraswati/Sharada pilgrimage spots is Shringeri Sharadamba Temple. In Ernakulam district of Kerala, there is a famous Saraswati temple in North Paravur, namely Dakshina Mookambika Temple North Paravu.

shakti peeth Ancient Sharada Peeth in Pakistan held Kashmir is one of the oldest surviving temples of Ma Saraswati

Although there is no special time to perform Saraswati Puja, texts suggest that the goddess should be worshipped when Panchami Tithi is prevailing. According to experts, Saraswati Puja should be performed during Purvahna Kala - the time between sunrise and midday. [3]

kolkata Saraswati Puja at Baranagore Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama High School, Kolkata, West Bengal

The festival is celebrated across India and especially in universities and educational institutions. Students place their book and artists there instruments in the feet of Goddess Saraswati to seek blessings. I remember in my school and university a statue of Goddess Saraswati was established at a common place in the ground and each student would seek her blessing before starting the day.

In Goa Maharashtra and Karnataka, Saraswati Puja starts with Saraswati Avahan on Maha Saptami and ends on Vijayadashami with Saraswati Udasan or Visarjan.

In Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the last three days of the Navaratri festival, i.e., Ashtami, Navami, and Dashami, are celebrated as Sarasvati Puja. The celebrations start with the Puja Vypu (Placing for Worship) on the ashtami day and books are taken out for reading only after the morning worship on Vijayadasami Puja Eduppu (Taking from Puja).

Yangon Statue of Thurathadi at Kyauktawgyi Buddha Temple (Yangon)

Outside Indian subcontinent Saraswati is worshipped in Myanmar as Thurathadi, in Japan as Benzaiten, in Cambodia as Vagisvari, in Tibet as Yang chen ma, and in Indonesia and Thailand as Saraswati herself. [1]

Japan One of Benzaiten temples in Japan

Bali Balinese Hindu deity Saraswati

Vasant Panchami is also celebrated on the same day which marks the beginning of spring season. People celebrate it by wearing yellow color which is also a mark of wisdom and prosperity. The day is considered extremely auspicious to start new work, get married or perform house warming ceremony. In some regions children are also taught their first words on this day as it is considered auspicious. Also, according to Hindu tradition, Lord Brahma is believed to have created the universe on this day. [4][5] In Punjab Vasant Panchami is also celebrated by flying kites and the sky is full of colourful kites during the day. People also remember the martyr saint Ram Singh Kuka, who was born on this day, was a soldier in Maharaja Ranjeet Singh’s army and later converted to a saint. [5]

On this auspicious day American Hindu joins one and all of you in worshipping Ma Saraswati and wishes that she bestows knowledge and wisdom on all of us.