Basant Panchami has a specific meaning: Basant means “spring,” and Panchami means “the fifth day.” Basant Panchami falls on the fifth day of spring. The festival is observed in the northern part of the Subcontinent. Although it is notified in the ritual calendar of South India, it is not celebrated as a household or public event but in temples as a religious festival.The same rings true of the central region of Madhya Pradesh.
- Basant Panchami is celebrated every year on the fifth day of the bright half of the Indian month of Magha. In ancient Indian literature, Basant Panchami is associated with Shringara Rasam and the festival was celebrated in this tradition. Celebrations today still honour Kamadeva, his wife Rati, and his friend Basant (the personification of Spring).
- People worship Goddess Saraswati to get enlightened with knowledge and to get rid of lethargy, sluggishness and ignorance. This ritual of initiating education to children is known as Akshar-Abhyasam or Vidya-Arambham/Praasana which is one of the famous rituals of Basant Panchami. Schools and colleges arrange pujas in the morning to seek the blessing of the Goddess.
- Although there is no special time to perform Saraswati Puja on Basant Panchami day one should make sure that Puja is done when Panchami Tithi is prevailing. Many times Panchami Tithi doesn’t prevail whole of the day on Basant Panchami day hence we believe that it is important to do Saraswati puja within Panchami Tithi.
- Basant Panchami is the first and more minor of two spring-themed festivals in Hindu culture. Basant Panchami initiates the spring festive cycle and heralds its summation that occurs with Holi.
- The 40-day period between Basant Panchami and Holi corresponds with the 40 days of Rati’s penance after her husband, Kamadeva was reduced to ashes for shooting the eye of Shiva with his love arrows. Between Basant Panchami and Holi, preparations are made for numerous burnings in effigy of the demoness Holika.
- Starting on Basant Panchami, a log with a figure of Holika is placed in a public place and during the next 40 days, the faithful add twigs and other combustible material to the log to form a pyre which is lit on Holi. In places such as Balarama temple in Baithain, the singing of Holi songs and the throwing of colour begin on Vasant Panchami and continue throughout the Holi season.
- Muslims have been celebrating Basant since the 12th century A.D. According to legend Delhi’s Chishti Saint Nizamuddin Aulia’s young nephew, Taqiuddin Noah died. Stricken with grief, he withdrew from society. The court poet, Amir Khusrau, tried to think of ways to brighten the Saint’s mood.
- Upon seeing local women carrying flowers on Basant and dressed in yellow, Khusrau too dressed in yellow and took flowers to the Saint. This brought a smile on the Saint’s face. Since then, Basant has been celebrated at the dargah of Nizamuddin Aulia in Delhi and all dargah’s of the Chishti order.
- For Sikhs, in the Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar, on the day of Basant Panchmi, musicians start the music by singing Basant Raga. This practice continues up until the first day of Vaisakh when Basant Rag is no longer used.