Welcoming goddess Saraswati and advent of spring season
Celebrated with great religious fervour by Udaipurites is Basant Panchami as they believe that worshipping goddess Saraswati would fulfil all their desires. She is considered to be the goddess of all creative arts, knowledge and wisdom. She descended on the earth to make it a place full of joy with her power of speech and soothing music. Her vehicle swan signifies good thoughts and pure knowledge and her white clothes symbolize purity and charity. Considered to be the king of seasons, Basant shows that it is just the end of winter – ‘bus’(just) and ‘ant’(end).
It is believed that on this day Kamdev shot arrows at Lord Shiv to end his ‘samadhi’. So infuriated was the Lord that he opened his third eye and burnt Kamdev to ashes. It is also said that on this day Basant ‘raga’ came out of the Lord’s mouth. Wandering in search of Sita, Ram met his great devotee Shabri who first tasted the berries herself and gave only the sweet ones to her master on Basant Panchmi.
On this day, the Maharana and his courtiers used to wear yellow clothes. A ‘durbar’ was held in the Rajmahal in which ‘charans’ and ‘bhats’, the court poets, recited poems on Basant. A programme of elephant fight was also organized.
Basant Panchmi is an ‘abhuju mahaurat’ when ceremonies like marriages, ring ceremony, laying foundation of new houses, house warming and ‘namkaran’ can be held without consulting an astrologer.
Clad in yellow clothes men and women seem to match the color of the mustard flowers growing in the fields. Food items like rice have also the same color. Goddess Saraswati is reverently worshipped in homes.
Basant Panchmi is celebrated with great enthusiasm in several temples spread all over the town. At the famous Jagdish Mandir, the festival begins at 5:30 with ‘panchamritsnan’ and the Lord wears yellow dress, yellow ‘dupattas’, and yellow crown. During Rajbhog Arti also, he wears yellow robe and to Him are offered yellow flowers. The whole temple is decked with yellow flowers. In ‘bhog’ is offered yellow coloured rice. After Rajbhog, devotees play with ‘abeer’ and ‘gulal’.
The idol of Shrinathji at the Shrinath Temple at Raoji ka Hata in Udaipur wears white clothes through out this month. The temple gets ‘abeer’ of three colours – red, pink and white – from the main temple at Nathdwara and on Basant Panchami it is sprinkled on the Lord’s dress and curtains. The singing of Basant songs begins on this day and continues till Falgun Ekadashi. The ‘kirtan’ starts with the singing of Ashtapadi composed by famous poet Jaidev.
In the Asthal Mandir at Surajpole, the idols are clad in yellow clothes. In the morning there is Mangal Aarti followed by Shringar Aarti. Ears of wheat plants, mustards flowers and mango leaves are offered. Rajbhog includes Kesaria Bhath. Basant Bhajans are sung by Asthal Mahila Bhakt Mandli.
Basant Panchami is celebrated in a special way at the Baiji Raj Ka Kund Mandir, Delhi Gate where the idol is draped in yellow clothes. The singing of Phag songs also starts. Some other temples such as Radhavallabh Mandir and Meetharamji Mandir celebrate the festival in several fascinating ways.
An important event in the Hindu calendar, Basant Panchami brings about a feeling of elation to welcome the advent of a new season.