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Monday, February 14, 2005

Saraswati Puja

Yesterday was Saraswati Puja - a very festive occasion in Eastern India. I noticed that it is also celebrated with enthusiasm in Bangladesh. So I surfed the net and came up with this literature after a bit of searching and browsing:

"She is represented as a graceful woman with white skin, wearing a crescent moon on her brow, she rides a swan or a peacock or is seated on a lotus flower.

picture courtesy www.astrogyan.com

The Mythological History
In the Vedas, Saraswati was a water deity and was revered for purifying, fertilizing and enriching powers. The next stage in Saraswati's mythological history was her identification with the holy rituals performed on the banks of river Saraswati. She is said to have invented Sanskrit, the language of the Brahmins, of scriptures and scholarship. It is also believed that it was her who discovered soma or amrita in the Himalayas and brought it to the other gods. Later myths diminished the powers of Saraswati. She was said to be identical with Viraj, the female half or being created out of the substance of Purusha or Prajapati and thus the instrument of creation. As Brahma's wife, she provides the power to execute what Brahma has conceived with his creative intelligence. She is the goddess of all the creative arts and in particular of poetry and music, learning and science.

The Celebration of Saraswati Puja: Saraswati puja is a big occasion in West Bengal. The day has been declared a state holiday. The pujas are held in every locality and in a few homes as well. Since Saraswati is the goddess of learning, the students are the most enthusiastic. They give 'Anjali' to the goddess and pray for their future. The youngest girl of the family has to wear a yellow ('Basanti') coloured saree as a custom. An essential requirement for the Saraswati puja are the 'Palash' flowers without which the puja is considered to be incomplete.All the young people living in the locality gather in the pandal to celebrate the occasion. Music blares in the pandals and the children enjoy themselves. The puja is performed by the 'Pujari' or pundit. After the puja is over, the 'prasad' is distributed among all the people present. In some places, they make it a point to feed all the poor living in the locality."

Thanks to bangalinet.com for the piece above (excl. pic).


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