West Bengal celebrates Saraswati Puja
Kolkata, Jan 28 (IBNS): Saturday morning commenced on a festive note as Bengal celebrates the first religious festival of the year – Saraswati Puja.
On Saturday, the deity of art, wisdom and culture is being worshipped by students across West Bengal.
From schools to households, people were busy appeasing the Goddess of knowledge, who is considered by the Hindus as the daughter of Goddess Durga.
Goddess Saraswati is worshipped in various parts of the country various ways and in different times.
In Maharashtra and Gujarat, Saraswati Puja starts with ‘Saraswati Avahan’ on ‘Maha Saptami’ and ends on ‘Vijayadashami‘ with ‘Saraswati Udwasan’ or ‘Visarjan’ (idol immersion).
While in Eastern India, which includes West Bengal, the occasion s celebrated in the ‘Magha’ month (January–February).
It coincides with ‘Vasant Panchami’ or ‘Shree Panchami’ which is the 5th day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of ‘Magha’.
Following the rituals, people place books near the Goddess’ statue or picture and worship Her. Book-reading is not allowed on this day.
In the southern states of India, Saraswati Puja is conducted during the ‘Navaratri’ which literally means “Nine Nights”.
But the actual celebrations continue during the 10th day, which is considered as ‘Vijaya Dashami’ or the Victorious Tenth Day.
In West Bengal, Saraswati Puja holds a special place in popular culture.
Boys clad in punjabi and dhoti (traditional dresses) and girls wearing yellow sarees, in most cases for the first time, make the festival all the more special.
Like in every other Indian festival, food plays a crucial role in Sarawasti Puja.
Traditionally Khichdi (a preparation of rice and pulses), Dum Aloo (potato) and Chutney are served to the goddess along with various kinds of sweets.
As the last traces of winter are set to fade away from Kolkata giving way to Spring, Saraswati Puja commences the Hindu festival calendar.
(Photos by Akash Goswami/IBNS)