Organising pujas are the biggest community activity in Bengal. While the elders do the heavy hitting organising Durga Puja and Kali Puja, it is the teenagers and students who organise the Saraswati festival.
Kolkata: All of young Bengal waits for this day every year. For a teenager growing up in the state, Saraswati Puja has a pull unique and different from even the grand, signature Durga Puja.
Here are some reasons why it is so special for youngsters, although the goddess of knowledge and music holds her magnetic charm over every generation of the deeply intellectually bent people and their culture.
Basanta or spring is the season of love. Red and yellow flower clusters of Krishnachura and Radhachura (the Royal poinciana trees) are in full bloom, there is that thrilling chill in the breeze and sparkle in the sunshine. This is one of the most gorgeous seasons in Bengal. Not just the villages, even the metropolis Kolkata and other cities like Kalyani, Durgapur, Siliguri or Asansol come alive with flora and gently sunswept squares, terraces, courtyards and balconies. It is as if someone has injected romance in the air.
Festival of the young
Organising pujas are the biggest community activity in Bengal. While the elders do the heavy hitting organising Durga Puja and Kali Puja, it is the teenagers and students who organise the Saraswati festival. Naturally, the boys and the girls work together, share space together away from their parents’ strict watch. Youngsters are also actively involved in the rituals of the puja. It goes on to produce a heady chemistry, somewhat like Navratri in Gujarat.
Girls in yellow saris
There is something about seeing the colony or ‘para’ girls, who go around in regular clothes, suddenly draped in bright yellow saris. It makes the festival all the more special. Winter is fading fast, the sun is out, and dress code in Bengal also begins to change. The boys wear tradition kurta and pajama/churidar. The optics make also go into making Saraswati Puja a more popular and widely celebrated time for romance alongside worship than Valentine’s Day.
Love springs, not just letters: “Meet me behind the college after Saraswati Puja anjali. I will wait.”
A day of no studies
What gives the festival a young edge is that on this day, parents insist that you should not study! One of the most profound parts of our traditional iconography, Maa Saraswati holds the ‘japa mala’ or beads of worship higher than the vedas, emphasising on the realms of non-textbook education. However, this ‘day of break from rules’ brings with it the mood of romantic abandon. The rules set by strict parents on boys mingling with girls are also loosened.
Devi of finer things
Devi Saraswati, unlike the grim aspects of Maa Durga or Maa Kali’s battle and triumph over evil or Devi Lakshmi’s material side, represents the finer emotions in life. Knowledge, exploration, music, love are all yoked into one, making this a more conducive festival for young romance.
Last Updated 10, Feb 2019, 1:00 PM IST