Basant means one who bestows wishes and season of spring. Spring is about new beginnings and transformations. Panchami means the fifth day of the Hindu lunar month in the Hindu calendar marking the beginning of winter’s end and the coming of spring. And in the western calendar it is January—February.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati entered the holy order of Parmahamsa on the auspicious the day of Basant Panchami,19th July,1964. A new beginning and the foundation of the Bihar School of Yoga was laid.
Basant Panchami is celebrated by the Hindus in late January or early February. It is a festival very much looked forward to by students as one worships one’s books and the Goddess Saraswati. It is normally a holiday and there is no question of finishing any homework. Kites are flown. Sweet rice is made with basmati rice, nuts, saffron and sugar. Yellow color is added to the rice. It is a joyous festival.
Basant Panchami was on the 26th of January this time and Saraswati is worshipped. Saraswati is prayed to, because her four hands correlate to the four aspects of human personality in learning: intellect, alertness, mind and ego. In one hand she has the lotus, the symbol of true knowledge.
Saraswati bestows wisdom, knowledge and good fortune on her worshippers. Yellow is her favorite color and is considered auspicious. Yellow is also the color of wisdom and is recognized as the color of spring. For the puja, people wear yellow clothes, offer yellow flowers and yellow sweets to the Goddess. The flowers offered are marigolds. The celebration of Basant is also connected to the Spring harvest. The crops harvested are wheat, barley, mustard, sesame, and peas.
Meditation for Saraswati
Place a picture of Saraswati or a statue on an asana (in a metal bowl). Place a yellow, orange or white cloth beneath the asana. Offer yellow flowers. Light a lamp with sesame oil. Chant the Saraswati Mantra, Aim. Use a mala (Crystal) and chant Aim 108 times. Practice the Samvrit (balancing) Pranayama. Inhalation to the count of five, pause to the count of five, exhale to the count of five and pause to the count of five after inhalation. This pranayama balances one’s prana.
The sadhana will enable one to increase one’s creativity. It is very powerful for poets, writers, musicians, artists and seekers of knowledge. It is also beneficial to chant for people who have speech problems. They can also chant the mantra. It will enable children, who stutter, if they repeat the mantra aloud.
Recipe for Sweet Rice
Half cup long grained rice, two tablespoons sunflower oil, a stick of cinnamon, two cloves, two green cardamoms, one third cup sugar, one quarter cup water, ten—fifteen strands of saffron dissolved in one tablespoon milk, sliced almonds, chopped cashew, five-six raisins, two cups water. One quarter teaspoon cardamom powder.
- Rinse rice and soak in water for twenty minutes. Boil rice with two cups water, until almost cooked. Transfer to colander and drain water.
- In a heavy based pan add oil. Add the spices, sauté for thirty seconds, add sugar and ¼ cup water. Stir and cook for a minute. Add the saffron mixture, add cardamom powder. Stir and cook until sugar melts.
- When it starts boiling add the rice, stir gently until there are no lumps. Reduce flame, cover until all moisture is evaporated.
- Switch off flame. Add the nuts.
Offer to the Goddess first and then enjoy.
Aim Hrim Klim