The celebration of Vasant Panchami, also known as Saraswati Puja in honour of the Hindu goddess Saraswati, heralds the beginning of spring. Depending on the locality, the event is observed in various ways by Indian religions. Vasant Panchami also signals the beginning of the forty-day countdown to Holika and Holi. Since any season transitions for 40 days before entering its peak, the Vasant Utsava (holiday) on Panchami is observed forty days before spring.
Every year, on the fifth day of the bright half of the Hindu lunisolar month of Magha, which usually falls in late January or February, Vasant Panchami is observed. Since spring is regarded as the “King of All Seasons,” the festival begins forty days beforehand. On Vasant Panchami, the weather tends to be more like winter in northern India and more like spring in central and western India, which supports the notion that spring arrives in full bloom 40 days following Vasant Panchami.
Hindus throughout the Indian subcontinent, particularly in India and Nepal, take special pride in celebrating the event. Sikhs have also practised it historically. Sri Panchami is the name given to that day in southern states. It is referred as as “Hari Raya Saraswati” among Indonesian Hindus and on the island of Bali (great day of Saraswati). Additionally, it heralds the start of the 210-day Balinese Pawukon calendar.
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