When the fields are mustard yellow, it is the time for the spring festival Basant Panchmi in reverence to Goddess Saraswati. When the berries ripen yellow, the Dhhak and Asoka are at their best, the students in particular pay homage to the goddess of knowledge, Saraswati, the goddess of intelligence, wisdom and knowledge of all arts, science, music and dancing. Basanth season is the king of all seasons because this season is free from the intense heat of the summer, from the shivering colds of the winter and from the havoc of rain. This season is also important because Sri Krishna himself has described this as flowering season, in his magnificence.
Basant Panchami festival falling on the fifth day of dark lunar days in Magh (February) has been observed as a festival for worship of Saraswati since the Vedic and Puranic age. On this day Brahma created Saraswati to dislodge the dumb insipidity of the creation. By bestowing a Veena in her hands, he allotted the function of speech through her to the world. She was thus named as “Veena Vandini” and “Vani Dayyani” (the Veena player and the awarder of speech).
By the grace of Saraswati, not only men but also gods can recognize and are made conversant with good behavior, intelligence, influence, brilliance, music, speech, poetry, and differentiation between proper and improper. Therefore there is the tradition of the worship of Goddess Saraswati on Basant Panchmi festival. The worship is with sweet smelling flowers and powdered sandalwood. On this auspicious occasion, great saints and teachers admitted Brahmin children
to their schools for teaching.
Sri Krishna also worshipped Saraswati on this day by virtue of which he becomes an expert in sixteen arts and in all others. Even in the modern days, especially in Bengal it is on this day that the kids are made to start education, so that they receive blessings from Goddess Saraswati, after her worship. In the times past, many kings and rulers used to organize literary seminars and symposia; poets, dramatists and writers were felicitated and rewarded on this occasion. Great dramas of Kalidasa and other dramatists were played before the audience on this festival.
The scientific reason for the observance of Basant Panchmi festival is that this festival gives us a warning to bring about a change in our food and clothing. With the arrival of Basant season, the body begins gaining extra energy, creation of a light fluid in the blood. Ayurvedic practitioners have described this season as relishing and passionate. The fluid created in the blood influences sexual desire. They have, therefore advised gradual reduction in the hot and inciting foods after this season, which affect our health adversely. They have advised the massage of the body with mango sprout, on this festival, as beneficial. By its consumption, cold, cough and bile are got rid off; diseases of the blood are eliminated and destroy effects of the poison.
Basant Panchmi is the festival, observed on a large scale in Punjab and the North when the mustard crop is ripe. The people put on garments in yellow color. They cook yellow rice. The famous folk dance ‘Bhangra’ of Punjab glorifies the congregations on this festival. This is a festival of jubilation when the farmers are rich with their yield.