Saraswati Puja, also known as ‘Basant Panchami’, is a Hindu festival that marks the arrival of spring and is dedicated to the goddess of art, music, science, wisdom, and knowledge, Saraswati. It is celebrated on the fifth day of the spring season and is considered an auspicious day to begin new learning endeavors. The goddess is depicted wearing a white saree or cloth, seated on a white swan or white lotus. Many devotees also wear yellow clothing on this day.
Goddess Saraswati is considered the patron goddess of students, musicians, writers, and those involved in creative learning. On this day, parents at shrines urge their children to write their names, letters, or numbers on the temple’s walls and offer different varieties of garlands, tika, and sweets while chanting the Saraswati Vandana, a hymn written in her name. All her tools such as books, ink, notebooks, and pens are also worshipped.
Many schools and colleges have special events on the day of Saraswati Puja. They welcome students and parents to offer their prayers and sweets to the goddess. Prayers are also offered to Lord Ganesha to remove obstacles to success before the start of any event. After the prayers, sweet yellow-colored rice and fruits such as bananas are distributed among the devotees. Many individuals celebrate the occasion by bringing the idol of Goddess Saraswati and preparing yellow-colored sweet rice in their homes.
It is also believed that if an individual eats seven rice grains offered to the goddess, they will become knowledgeable and wise. As a result, many children and students request for the rice grains scattered around the idol of the divine goddess. Only after the puja is finished, devotees eat the fruit and prasad received.
Saraswati Puja is also considered promising for starting a new venture or starting a new relationship. As a result, many housewarming parties are organized, business institutions are opened, and many Hindu couples get married on this day. People from all castes, ages, and religions come together to worship in the hope of gaining the goddess’s blessings.
In Kathmandu, the ancient royal palace located at Basantpur was first inaugurated on Saraswati Puja. Even today, at Hanuman Dhoka, all the rituals and rites are performed, and hundreds of government and military officials offer their prayers to the divine goddess. In many communities, people organize idol competitions, and the community with the best idol wins and is awarded. There are three main temples of Goddess Saraswati across the Kathmandu valley, such as the Nil Saraswati temple in Gairidhara, the Saraswati temple in Lele, and Swayambhu. During the auspicious day, devotees visit these temples and pay homage from early morning to late in the evening.