Celebrate Basant Panchami in Udaipur

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Celebrated with great religious fervor by Udaipurites, Basant Panchami is the day on which they believe worshiping goddess Saraswati would fulfill their desires. They consider her to be the goddess of all creative arts, knowledge, and wisdom. They also believe that she descended on the earth to make it a place full of joy with her power of speech and soothing music. All this makes her extremely venerable for scholars, writers, poets, musicians, and students of different arts. Her vehicle swan signifies good thoughts and pure knowledge. Her white clothes symbolize purity and chastity.

Celebrate Basant Panchami in Udaipur
Source: ayushdevapura

Since ancient times, festivals in our country have been linked with the change of seasons. There are six seasons viz Sharad, Hemant, Shishir, Grishma, Varsha, and Basant. Basant is considered to be the King of Seasons. It is a transitory period between summer and winter. The word, Basant shows that it is just the end of winter- ‘bas’ (just) and ‘ant’ (end). The weather is pleasant and one has a sense of relief after the severe winter. No wonder Lord Krishna says in Gita that among seasons. He is like Basant.

According to Sanskrit scholar, Vasudev Shastri, Basant Panchami has its origin right in the time when the universe was created and nothing existed. Lord Brahma went to Lord Vishnu and they had a long discussion. There was perfect silence everywhere. Brahma took out water from his ‘kamandal’ and sprinkled it all around Him. There were vibrations everywhere and suddenly appeared Saraswati who had miraculous powers. She had a ‘Veena’, and a book in her hands. She bowed before the two Lords. On instructions from Brahma, she made the atmosphere musical and joyous by playing on the ‘Veena’. To commemorate this event, Basant Panchami is celebrated with great enthusiasm not only in India but also in some other countries such as Nepal, Jawa, and Japan. Another legend says that right at the beginning of the creation of the universe the primordial power had divided itself into five parts as desired by the Supreme Lord- Radha, Padma, Savitri, and Saraswati. It is also believed that on this day Kamdev shot arrows at Lord Shiv to disturb Him in His ‘Samadhi’. Shiv was so infuriated that the opened His third eye and burnt Kamdev to ashes. It is also said that on this day Basant ‘raga’ came out of Lord Shiva’s mouth.

According to another Sanskrit scholar, Devendra Dave scriptures tell us that when Lord Ram was wandering in Dandkaranya forest in search of Sita, he met His great devotee Shabri who fed Him with berries that she first tasted herself and then gave to her Master. This incident took place on Basant Panchami.

According to the historian, Dr. Girish Mathur, Basant Panchami also reminds of a historical event about Prithviraj Chauhan who had defeated Mohammad Gauri 16 times but did not kill him. In the 17th battle between them, Chauhan was defeated, taken to Afghanistan as a prisoner and blinded. But before giving a life sentence, Gauri wanted to see how Chauhan used his Shabdban that was believed to hit the spot from which the sound originated. Through a couplet, poet  Chandrabardai gave a hint to Chauhan where Gauri was and Chauhan hit the target killing his foe. Then Chauhan and Chandrabardai killed one another.

According to historians, in earlier times, there were not many occasions for the entertainment of the public. The celebration of Basant Panchami started in the Maurya period and it became a popular festival at the time of the Guptas. It is celebrated in the form of big fairs in several places, especially north India in which farmers participate with great fervor.

Celebrate Basant Panchami in Udaipur
Source: NewIndianExpress

According to historian Rajendra Nath Purohit, Basant Panchami had an important place in the calendar of Mewar rulers. On this day the Maharana and his courtiers used to wear yellow clothes. A ‘durbar’ was held in the Rajmahal in which court poets recited poems on the Basant season before the Maharana. A programme of elephant fight was also organized.

Great Hindi poets like Suryakant Nirala say that at this time of the year the whole universe is in a joyous mood. The sweet-smelling flowers, the soothing breeze, the dancing peacocks, the cooing cuckoos, the verdant hills, the quietly flowing rivers, the clear sky and the soft rays of the sun make the environment highly enjoyable.

According to Vaidya Sabhalal Audichya, Basant is called Madhumas, the season of honey-like sweetness. The energy flows upwards in all the vegetation. Human beings are filled with energy and enthusiasm. The nights are short and the days longer. The sun shines more brightly. Astrologers, Dr. MS Alakhnanda,  say that the sun takes the direction of the north and so this period is called the period of gods. No wonder Basant Panchami is thus one of the most auspicious days in the Hindu calendar when any ceremony can be performed. It is an ‘abhuja mahurat’ and one has no need to consult an astrologer for programmes such as marriage, ring ceremony, starting the construction of new houses, launching of a new business, ‘grihpravesh’ (housewarming) or ‘namkaran’ (giving names).

Basant Panchami would be celebrated with great enthusiasm in several temples spread all over the town. At the famous Jagdish Mandir, the festival would begin at 5.30 with ‘panchamrit snan’ and the Lord would wear a yellow dress, yellow ‘dupattas’, and yellow crown. During Rajbhog Aarti also, he would have a yellow robe and offered yellow flowers. The main gate and the whole temple would be decked with yellow flowers. In ‘bhog’ would be offered yellow colored rice. After Rajbhog, people would play with ‘abeer’ and ‘gulal’.

The idol of Shrinathji at the Shrinath Temple at Raoji ka Hata in Udaipur would wear white clothes throughout this month. The temple gets ‘abeer’ of three colors- red, pink and white from the main temple at Nathdwara and on Basant Panchami, it is sprinkled on the Lord’s dress and curtains. The singing of Basant songs begins on this day and continues till Falgun Ekadashi. The ‘kirtan’ starts with the singing of Ashtapadi composed by the famous poet Jaidev.

In the Asthal Mandir at Surajpole, the idols would be clad in yellow clothes. At about eight in the morning, there would be Mangal Aarti followed by Shringar Aarti. Ears of wheat plants, mustard flowers, and mango leaves would be offered. Rajbhog would include Kesaria Bhath. Basanti Bhajans would be sung by Asthal Mahila Bhakt Mandli.

Basant Panchami would be celebrated in a special way at the Baiji Raj Ka Kund Mandir, Delhi Gate where the idol would be draped in yellow clothes. The singing of Phag songs would also start. Several other temples such as Radhavallabh Mandir and Meetharamji Mandir would celebrate the festival in several fascinating ways.

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