The Spring Festival
To honour Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning, Wisdom and the Fine Arts, Basant Panchami is celebrated all over India.
Basant Panchami, the Festival of Kites,
falls on Panchami of the Sukal Paksh ( Waxing moon) towards the close
of winter in the month of January-February. The weather circle seems
to be changing otherwise Basant used to bring a message of softness
in the weather in place of the hard cold season. Basant is the time
when mustard fields are yellow with it the spring is ushered in. So
Punjabis welcome the change and celebrate the day by wearing yellow
clothes, holding feasts and by organising kite flying.
Basant Panchami day puja is devoted to Saraswati, the godess of learning and wife of Brahma. She bestows the greatest wealth to humanity i.e. the wealth of Knowledge.
The festival of Basant Panchmi heralds the arrival of spring. Throughout the world, Spring is welcomed as the season of hope and rebirth.
The lady of the house dressed in yellow with zari and gota on the dress, looking like Lakshmi, the wife of Vishnu (a housewife is always alluded to as Lakshmi and no other goddess) with the chonp, bindi on the forehead and yellow and red bangles on the arms, sets the trend for everyone to become festive.
The puja is begun by the youngest girl present by applying the teeka on everyone's forehead and then, by turns, everyone sprinkling water, aipun and roli by the third finger of the right hand dipped in each liquid, by turn, holding the finger each time by the thumb loosely and then letting it go with a light jerk, so as to sprinkle the attached liquid onto the deity. This is done three times with each liquid. The rice and flowers are picked up by the fingers and thumb and showered on to the gods. Everyone puts a little colour onto the gods. The heralding of summer begins with a bit of colour sprinkled even today (before Holi) on the gods. The lady of the house then takes a few bers, some sangaris and a laddoo and a paan (the same paan along with the nariyal can be given to everyone since paan is now a very expensive item) and gives them to each member present. This activity can be done in two instalments as it is difficult to hold all these items at one time. The receiver takes the offerings in both hands and touches them to the giver his or her forehead and returns these items to the giver, but from the second instalment, he or she must take one or two items at least and eat them in the puja room.
This festival - although it involves the worship of a Hindu Goddess -- is truly secular in character since Art knows no boundaries, and neither does Spring.