Vasant Panchami : our own Valentine’s day

The world is in the Valentine’s day mode. Everywhere you look, you see red.. literally. Everyone out there is trying to woo out the moolah from your pockets by selling Love. The restaurants, the showrooms for clothes, jewellery, gift items, shoes, home appliances and even gyms and travel industry are going ‘nudge-nudge, wink-wink’ reminding you constantly that you have to celebrate valentine’s day or else you will have wasted a year of your life. The chocolate makers (both company and home made), florists and card companies have gone into the overdrive, stocking up for the day!!

How the trend started in India I don’t quite remember, but as a child I have no memory of a Valentine’s day. It was around the time I was in college, that the winds of Valentine coated love arrived on our shores. It was limited to the bigger cities at first but the winds of consumerism and the idea of selling love by various industries quickly carried it to all parts of the country.

In the mad rush to follow this imported version of a ‘Love Day’ , we forgot that we have our own valentine’s day, that has been around for as long as one can think of. The colour of our Valentine’s day is- Yellow and its called the ‘Vasant Panchmi’.

Vasant Panchmi falls on the fifth day of Magh month of the Indian calendar. Vasant means- Spring and Panchami- the fifth day. It marks the official beginning of spring. It is one of the most auspicious day in the Hindu calendar. It is celebrated mostly in the northern regions of the country.

saraswati1[1]Goddess Saraswati (this image has been used so much that I can’t really trace the source)

Traditionally, this day is celebrated as the day of goddess Saraswati –  goddess of knowledge, wisdom and music. Prayers are offered to the goddess in all educational institutes of the country. Children receive their first lessons on this day. Years ago, as a child, I remember, people living within a particular area would get together and erect a pavilion for the goddess where we would offer our prayers. Music and singing competitions would be held in the evening for all age groups and it would be a major ‘outside day’ after the cold winters. Kites are also flown in many parts of the country.

This day is also celebrated as the day of ‘Kamadev’- the Hindu god of love and lust (aka Cupid). He brings spring to the lands and arouses the feeling of love into the hearts of the people. Nature itself celebrates the season of love as the trees sprout new leaves, flowers bloom and and the weather turns warm and bright.

Marriages take place on this day as it is considered auspicious for the couples wanting to step into matrimony and don’t need to consult the date of births, positions of planets and constellations for a suitable marriage date, as this day is  considered good for all couples.

kashmir beauty (121)Yellow Mustard Fields

Yellow is the color of the day, as the fields of Punjab and Haryana turn golden yellow with mustard blossoms. People wear yellow clothes, (women wear bright yellow shades and men, the much subdued tints of yellow). In our homes (we are from Rajasthan, hence Rajasthanis) the food prepared is also yellow colored- mostly sweet rice colored yellow with saffron and in combination with yellow seasoned and salted rice.

meethe chawalSweet Rice (source-madcookingfusions.com)

This year the Vasant Panchmi falls on the 15th February, a day after the Valentine’s day. Wishing everyone a Happy Valentine’s day and a Happy Vasant Panchami.

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4 thoughts on “Vasant Panchami : our own Valentine’s day

  1. Thanks for the lesson! I like the idea of celebrating the beginning of spring. I get such a good feeling as the weather warms, the trees bud and the flowers begin to pop out of the ground. My energy level increases and yes, I naturally want to celebrate love, and a love of life.🙂

    • Through my blog I want people to know more about my country. As i read other people’s post, i realized that we all have a perception or an idea about a country, which may not be completely true. There are beautiful things about each country, be it the topography, the culture, festivals, history and of course, the people; and I thought I’d share my country with the world through my blog.🙂 And I always love to hear from you because you put everything so beautifully into words!!🙂

  2. Thank you so much for telling the story of the love day in your own culture. In our culture too, there are two love days… One day on which young couples like very much to get married, and a day that is meant for finding a mate and searching out love. I think that ancient cultures have more to offer when it comes to holidays. But the west like to commercialize almost everything. Here in Israel, we are just beginning to get to know Valentine’s Day, and I doubt that it will win over the whole population. I enjoy learning about your culture.

    • Thank you so much Shimon. I love to hear from you too. We are both a part of two ancient cultures. In my culture a lot of importance is given to nature and activities like crop harvesting,etc that depend on them which reflects in many of our festivals. Even the food prepared on these days has some significance and even health benefits and I’ll be writing about them.

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