An essay on Saraswati Puja.
A great festival
The Hindus of India look upon Saraswati as the goddess of learning and music. The Bengalees worship her every year, generally in the month of Magh. It is the most happy festival for the Hindu students of West Bengal.
Description of the goddess
In West Bengal the image of the goddess is all white and her dress is very simple. She puts on a white saree. The white colour is the sign of purity. She is not adorned with jewels. She sits on a white swan and puts her feet on a white lotus. She holds a musical instrument, called vina, in her hands. There are many books by her side. In some parts of India, people picture her sitting on a peacock. She is very richly dressed there.
An image is not always necessary. In many places, people whorship her without any image. Some books, ink-pots, pens and musical instruments are put in place of the image. Then she is worshipped. After the worship is over, everyone, young or old, prays to the goddess by chanting hymns. Flowers and leaves of beal, tulasi, mango blossoms and barley-sheaves are offered at her feet. This is a sign of showing our respect to the goddess.
A day of happiness
On this particular day, boys and girls neither read books nor touch their pens. So it is a very happy day for the students. They enjoy this festival with great delight. The worship of the goddess is performed in almost all the schools. The students adorn the place of worship very beautifully. On the day of worship, they rise early, bathe and make all arrangements for the worship. The priest is generally the pandit of the school. When the worship is finished, the students offer their prayers to the goddess. Then prasad is distributed among the students. Amusements are held at night. A lot of money is spent for this festival by the students of West Bengal.
The next evening the image is taken in a procession to the river and immersed in the water. In some places, this ceremony is not observed. The image is preserved there.
This festival has an educative value. It is an occasion for the students to work together. They are given some responsibility. They manage many things themselves. They learn the value of co-operation. They gain self-confidence. They learn to carry out responsible work when it is entrusted to them. It is sad to note that sometimes students indulge in undesirable merriments. This should be avoided.