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Saraswati Puja or Bangali Valentine’s Day?

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Uma Rajan is a senior teacher and co-ordinator with Birla High School, Kolkata

Aaj bosonto esho…aaj dakhina duar kholaa

The gentle nip in the air, the fragrance of the soft wind, the blossoming of flowers in a multitude of hues --- all herald the onset of spring. SPRING, the season of love when hearts beat faster, when untold feelings make one feel shy, when every nuance of the beloved’s voice takes on a special meaning. Yes, it is indeed the time for tender love to blossom.

Life for students during spring is rather hectic. Unfeeling parents cannot see the red joba phool without being reminded of the mistakes in the Math paper. At such a juncture, Maa Saraswati–‘the all-knowing,’ the Pure One, the Giver of Knowledge, makes her appearance on Basanta Panchami day. Her saree is white or yellow and from her veena emerge celestial notes, that reverberate in the universe.

The golden glow cast by her presence is reflected in the yellow hues of sarees that adorn the young and the old. Young girls clad in yellow sarees and boys in ethnic wear, seek each-others company. It is a day when books are laid at the lotus feet of Maa Saraswati and one is free to go gallivanting after offering pujo. Maa provides the much-needed break from hours of burning the midnight oil.

No curfews, no questioning about one’s whereabouts and no inquisitions about the gorgeously dressed daughter, make it a perfect day to meet your heart throb, may be to murmur sweet nothings or maybe to profess one’s attachment, to send coy glances under the cover of a friend’s group. Isn’t that a perfect setting for romance? It begins with hopping from one pandal to another and after eating the hitherto forbidden fruit, (no don’t take it otherwise), the kool, they would attend a lunch party or a movie.

‘It is spring fever. It makes your heart ache...you want it so,’ said Mark Twain but I say it is Saraswati puja..it is our own Valentine’s Day, when lovers sojourn into realms of innocent pleasure, that to them seems the ultimate bliss. May be Maa wants her children to experience the joy of this knowledge of tender love along with acquisition of academic excellence. Jai Maa Saraswati!