The Hindu Holiday of Saraswati Pooja (Saraswati Puja)
In Sanskrit the name Saraswati means one who moves in the direction of the Absolute. The Indian Goddess Saraswati represents education, intelligence, art, creative energy, wisdom and might. According to Indian mythology she is believed to be the wife of Brahma and the daughter of goddess Durga and Lord Shiva. Saraswati Pooja is the day when Hindus worship this goddess in order to attain her blessings in one's pursuit of the arts and knowledge.
The Goddess Saraswati is popularly known as the muse of knowledge, music and culture and the deity is usually dressed in white signifying purity and simplicity. She is depicted as a goddess with four hands representing the four Vedas, the sacred books of the Hindus. Her hands are also said to represent intellect, mind, ego and alertness. Goddess Saraswati has a white swan as her vehicle and that symbolizes Absolute knowledge. She holds a book, Veena and a rosary in her hands.
She was originally worshiped as the goddess of prosperity and fertility because the Rig Veda mentions her as a large powerful river. The civilization of Harappa is said to have been built up along her banks hence her ability to nourish, sanctify and help prosper.
Saraswati Pooja is celebrated on the fifth day of the Indian month of Magha (January-February). The day is also known as Vasant Panchami, due to it's observance on the first day of spring (Vasant).
Saraswati Pooja takes place in the morning with the chanting of mantras and shlokas (prayers). Goddess Saraswati is worshiped with fruits and seasonal flowers like marigold which grow in abundance this time of the year. Honey is also an essential item for this pooja because it signifies perfect knowledge.
Assorted items connected to knowledge, music and other arts are placed before Saraswati for her blessings. It is also a day to dress in white or shades of yellow. Saraswati is a deity who is satisfied with little. More concerned with knowledge she is not given to material gains. In the Southern parts of India, this pooja is performed during Navratri (a festival celebrated in the honor of Goddess Durga).
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