As ‘Diwali’ – the festival of light – is to Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity, and ‘Navaratri’ is to Durga, goddess of power and valor, Vasant Panchami is to Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and arts.
Hindus regard Vasant Panchami as the birthday of Goddess Saraswati. ‘Vasant’ comes from the word ‘spring’ as this festival heralds the beginning of springtime, and ‘Panchami’ from the 5th day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Magha, when it is observed. Hindus celebrate Vasant Panchami with great fervor in temples, homes and even schools and colleges as students across India utter the ‘Saraswati Mantra’ prayer before the idol of the goddess of knowledge and arts. It is celebrated every year on the fifth day of the Indian month of Magh (spring season). Traditionally during this festival children are taught to write their first words. Schools, Colleges, Clubs are decorated with colorful lights and decors. Unlike Ganesh Puja, students make all the arrangements starting from decors to the distribution of invitations.
In Odisha, the festival is celebrated in schools, colleges, and different educational institutions. Weeks before the Puja, beautiful idols of Goddess Saraswati of different size are sold in the market. People buy a new dress for the occasion. Children are taught to write their first words. It is believed that the students should be free from books for the day.