Honoring Knowledge-Vasanta Panchami

Vasanta Panchami or Basant Panchami or Shri Panchami is celebrated on the Shuddha Panchami i.e. 5th day of waxing phase of the Moon, in Magha Maasa (month) of the Hindu Calendar. Technically this is the official beginning of the Spring with visible signs in the nature – Flowers blooming, and leaves sprouting on the trees/plants that falls during autumn, weather getting pleasant from the harsh winter chills.

It is the day where Goddess of Knowledge, Learning & Art, Maa Saraswati is honored for enriching Human lives with Her blessings. It is believed that Maa Saraswati was born on this day and hence dedicated to Her.

Legend

Vasanta Panchami has been celebrated since ages and finds mention in various ancient scriptures. Brahma was in the process of creation – Humans and all other living beings. Despite this there was some restlessness and unsettled state of his mind. An eerie silence and discomforting environment pervaded all around. He then sprinkles water from his Kamandalu (Oblong Pot) and begins his penance creating Saraswati (Saras = pool of water; Saras is also used to mean “Speech” and vati – possessing; ) on this day. Hence Maa Saraswati is often referred to as Manasa Putri of Brahma. Thereafter Brahma begins his Penance after which he was bestowed with Spiritual Knowledge. Brahma acquired the sense of awareness, comprehension, thinking and capability to speak. He also discovered and realised power of speech, melody or raaga in the mantras in the chaos of his creation – in short saw method in madness. He then named Saraswati as Vagdevi, goddess of speech and sound. When Her sound reached Human beings, they obtained the power of speech and ability to set sound to music. All living beings were bestowed with supreme consciousness (Chaitanya).

Maa Saraswati was born with a Veena (a Classical string Instrument popular in India) in one hand, Palm Leaf bunched into a Book in another. She also had a Vara-Danda (a staff that bestows boon to a seeker) and a garland of crystal beads.

Koothanur Mahasaraswati,

It is in Her honor and as a sign of gratefulness that Vasanta/Basant Panchami is celebrated across India.

Historicity

Bhagavata and other Vaishana scriptures, has mention of grand celebrations in Govardhan Hill on Vasanta Panchami during the Dwapara Yuga. It is believed that fascinated by Bhagwan Krishna’s dance on this evening, Moon keeps watching and with Moonset for a period of One night of Brahma. The location where Bhagwan Krishna danced on the Govardhan Hill is called Chandra Sarovara today.

Some Information on Vedic Time

One day of Brahma consists of a thousand cycles of four yugas, or ages: Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali.

Satya is 1,728,000 years.

Treta-yuga lasts 1,296,000 years.

Dvapara-yuga lasts 864,000 years.

Kali-yuga (the yuga we have now been experiencing over the past 5,000 years) lasts 432,000 years.

These four yugas, totaling 4,320,000 rotating a thousand times, comprise one day of Brahma, and the same number comprise one night. Brahma lives one hundred of such “years” and then dies. These “hundred years” by earth calculations total to 311 trillion and 40 billion earth years.

– Bhagavad Gita 8.17
Govardhan Hill

There is also has a reference to Vasanta Panchami in Ramayana. It is the day Shabari, the Supreme Devotee of Bhagwan Shri Rama was liberated from her curse. After Ravana abducts Maa Sita, she strews her jewels on earth so that Her beloved can find the route she had been taken. Tracing this route, Bhagwan Shri Rama reaches Dandakaranya forest. Shabari, who was devoted to Shri Rama waited for His arrival and each day collect berry – tasting each one, discarding the bitter ones and collecting good ones in the basket. Her devotion overpowered the golden rule that anything offered to God (or any others) should not be tasted (which is then considered impure for others). Rama bypasses all other Ashrams and yogis and arrives at the humble abode of Shabari and accepts her offering, not seeing any faults due to utmost devotion. He acknowledges the efforts this devotee had taken to collect best quality of berries and accepts them despite it being considered impure otherwise (tasted food). Shabari also tells Rama to take help from Sugriva and where to find him in His pursuit to find Maa Sita. Rama then blesses her and liberates her from cycle of births and deaths and grants her moksha on Vasantha Panchami.

In Modern History

When Muhammad Ghori invaded India, Legendary Rajput King Prithviraj Chauhan repulsed 16 times handing him sound defeating. Though Prithviraj Chauhan forgave Muhammed Ghori each of these 16 times. On his 17th attempt, Mohammed Ghori was successful and defeated Prithviraj Chauhan, whom he apprehends and takes him to Afghanistan. Coward Mohammed Ghori gouges Prithviraj eyes out to reduce his riskand sprinkles it with spices and chilli powder, torturing brave Rajput King who still doesn’t seek pardon despite most inhuman and relentless attrocities. Contrast it with the Raj Dharma that a Hindu King Prithviraj Chauhan displayed towards a routed enemy for 16 times, when he could have harmed or even killed him, but ethical rules of war was honored on an undeserving enemy.

A few days later, Prithviraj Chauhan’s childhood friend and Poet Chand Bardai went to Afghanistan to meet Prithviraj in the prison. Upon arriving in Afghanistan, he meets Mohammed Ghori and extols virtue of Prithviraj Chauhan’s Shabdbedhi Dhanurvidya (Archery Skill where Target is Struck based on Source of Sound) ability. As anticipated by the Poet, Mohammed Ghori refused to believe and wanted to see that in action. Poet then invites, Mohammed Ghori to witness it in action and seeks permission to provide a Bow and Arrow to Prithviraj Chauhan which the stupid Sultan agrees to. A bow and arrow was given to blind Prithviraj Chauhan and the poet sings four lines of a verse as follows.

चार बांस चौबीस गज, अंगुल अष्ट प्रमाण,
ता ऊपर सुल्तान है, मत चूको चौहान.

Purport of the above Verse:
It describes exact location of Sultan exhorting him not to miss this golden opportunity to kill him. The location was revealed using the measures of those times. 4 Bans (1 Bans = 1 Bamboo length, approx 20’5.25″, 4 Bans rounded to 66 feet) 24 Gaj (1 Gaj = 3 feet) 8 Angula (~0.7 inch)

Master in Shabdbedhi Dhanurvidya that Prithviraj Chauhan was estimated it and shot right through the chest of Mohammed Ghori killing him instantly. Immediately thereafer both Prithviraj Chauhan and Chand Bardai stabbed each other killing themselves. It was Basant Panchami in the year 1192 when this incident happened

Saraswati Puja (For detailed Puja Vidhi – Please check the following section)

Saraswati Puja
Picture Courtesy: The Times of India
  • Wake up early in the morning and bathe with neem and turmeric.
  • Install Maa Saraswati’s Murti or Picture in a clean central location on a Peeth(pedestal) or table covered with Yellow or white cloth.
  • The Murti or Photograph will be clad with Yellow colored cloth
  • Since Maa Saraswati’s favourite color is white or Yellow, offer her yellow or white flowers as garland or for worship. Yellow is the color that dominates on the Vasanta Panchami. Use of yellow is attributed to harvesting of Mustard during this time. Yellow is also the color of knowledge and learning in Hinduism. White represents purity, peace, and knowledge
  • All prasada (offerings) also shall be of yellow color.
  • Yellow chandan (sandal paste) is an essential offering that should not be missed.
  • Since Maa Saraswati is Goddess of Learning and Art, one of the essential offerings has to be a book
  • It is believed that since it is closely related to Budha Graha (Planet) those affected by this planet will get relief
  • Puja offering shall also essentially include Singing songs in praise, dance recital and other art forms (including Instrumentals)

Mantras

Complete Mantra
ॐ  ऐं ह्रीं क्लीं ऐं महासरस्वत्यै देव्यै नमः।

Moola Mantra
ॐ  ऐं सरस्वत्यै ऐं नमः।

Mantra for removing Obstacles
ॐ ऐं ह्रीं श्रीं अंतरिक्ष सरस्वती परम रक्षिणी।
मम सर्व विघ्न बाधा निवारय निवारय स्वाहा।।

This festival is not limited to celebrations at home but celebrated as a community especially in Educational institutions, community halls and open grounds where elaborate arrangements are made for Saraswati Puja.

It is considered auspicious day to start anything new and hence a good Muhurta for Grihapravesha (House Warming), or starting a new business. The festival is considered a symbol of progress and fortune. It also is a precursor to the spring season after harsh winter and time for sowing the next harvest season. For an agrarian country like India, this festival is held very close to the heart of most Indians.

Detailed Saraswati Puja Vidhana (Shodashopachara Puja)

The following procedures is after Maa Saraswati’s murti/photo is installed in the identified. Read as Murti as Photo, in case Photograph of Maa Sarasawati is installed.

Shuddheekarana
Before we begin Shodashopachara Puja, purification has to be done. Chant the following shloka, sprinkling the Teertha on the puja sthala, peetha, all offerings and participants including self.

oṃ apavitraḥ pavitro vā sarvāvasthāṃ gato’pi vā .
yaḥ smaretpuṇḍarīkākṣhaṃ sa bāhyābhyantaraḥ śhuchiḥ

Dhyanam
Chant the mantra below while meditating on Maa Saraswati
Ya Kundendu-Tushara-Hara-Dhavala,
Ya Shubhra-Vastravrita,
Ya Vina-Vara-Danda-Mandita-Kara,
Ya Shveta-Padmasana॥
Ya Brahmachyuta-Shankara-Prabhritibhir
Devaih Sada Vandita,
Sa Mam Patu Saraswati Bhagawati
Nihshesha-Jadyapaha॥


Avahanam (Invitation or Invocation)
Join Chant following Mantra in front of the Murti, by showing Avahana Mudra (Avahana Mudra is formed by joining both palms and folding both thumbs as shown in the picture below).

Avahana Mudra (PC: www)

Hari Om। Sahastrashirsha Purusha Sahastrakshah Sahastrapat।
Sa Bhumim Savvetaspprttvattyatishtha Ddashangulam॥
Agachchha Saraswatidevi Sthane Chatra Sthirobhava।
Yavatpujam Karishyami Tavattvam Sannidhau Bhava॥
Om Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Avahayami Sthapayami॥

Asanam (Peetha)
After avahana invocation, offer Maa Saraswati the sacred Peetha (or seating) by offering Her some flowers, dropping them at the Peetha, while chanting the mantra

Ramyam Sushobhana Divyam Sarva Saukhyakaram Shubham।
Asanam Cha Mayadattam Grihana Parameshwari॥
Om Idamasanam Samarpayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥

Padyam (Washing Feet)
After Asanam, dip a flower into the Teertha and sprinkle it at the feet of the Murti, chanting the following mantra

Gangodakam Nirmalam Cha Sarvasaugandha Samyutam।
Pada Prakshalanarthaya Dattam Te Pratigrihyatam॥
Om Padayoh Padyam Samarpayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥

Arghyam
After Padyam, dip a flower into the Teertha and sprinkle the same at the Head of the Murti (or alternately pour a spoon of Teertha into the Panchapatre Plate). Chant the following mantra

Arghyam Grihana Deveshi Gandhapushpakshataih Saha।
Karunakara Me Devi Grihanarghya Namoastu Te॥
Om Hastayorarghya Samarpayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥

Achamaniyam
Aachamanam is a purification ritual, wherein one sips some water three times from the Brahma Theertham (base of the right thumb) while reciting divine names of Bhagavan Sri Maha Vishnu. This is the prelude to any vedic practices. This is performed to remove any deficiencies in Karta at all three levels: ‘Kayika’ (physical), ‘Vachika’ (verbal) and ‘Manasika’ (mental).

Keshavaya Swaha
Narayanaya Swaha
Madhavaya Swaha
(While Chanting the above, Drink a spoon of water each time from the base of your right hand.)

Govindaya namaha (pour a spoon of water in the Panchapatra Plate, from the tip of the right hand)

Vishnave Namaha (Touch Left Palm with Right Palm)
Madhusudhanaya Namaha (Touch Right Palm with Left Palm)
Trivikramaya Namaha (Touch the middle of Chin)
Vamanaya Namaha (Touch Right Chin)
Sridharaya Namaha (Touch Left Chin)
Hrishikeshaya Namaha (Hold palms together near heart)
Padmanabhaya Namaha (Touch both the crossed legs)
Damodaraya Namaha (Touch your head)
Sankarshanaya Namaha (Touch tip of Nose)
Vasudevaya Namaha (Touch right Nostril)
Pradumnaya Namaha (Touch left Nostril)
Anirudhaya Namaha (Touch Right Eye)
Purushotamaya Namaha (Touch left Eye)
Adhokshajaya Namaha (Touch Right Ear)
Naarashimaya Namaha (Touch Left Ear)
Achutaya Namaha (Touch your Navel)
Janardanaya Namaha (Touch Your Heart
Upendraya Namaha (Touch back of your Neck)
Haraye Namaha (Touch Right Shoulder by right hand)
Sri Krishnaya Namaha (Touch left shoulder by right hand)

Sarvatirtha Samayuktam Sugandhi Nirmalam Jalam।
Achamyatam Mayadattam Grihana Parameshwari॥
Om Mukhe Achamaniyam Samarpayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥

Marjanam (Ritualistic Bath)
After Achamaniyam, offer the ritualistic bath by sprinkling water with flower dipped in water on Maa Saraswati. Chant the following mantra

Apo hishta mayo Buhava stana oorjee dadatana
mahe ranaya chakshase
yova shivatamo rasaha tasya baajayate hanaha
ushateerava mataraha
tasma arangamamo yesyakshayaya jinvataha
apoo janayatachanaha

Ganga Saraswati Revapayoshni Narmada Jalaih।
Snapitoasi Maya Devi Tatha Shanti Kurushva Me॥
Om Snanartha Jalam Samarpayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥

Panchamrita Snana (Ritualistic Abhisheka or Showering of 5 items)
Shower 5 items (Milk, Curds, Ghee, Honey and Sugar) individually to the Abhishekha Murti of Maa Saraswati. In case it is not done to the Murti for any reason, dip a flower into all these items and offer it to Her. Chant the following mantra

Payo Dadhi Ghritam Chaiva Madhu Cha Sharkarayutam।
Panchamritam Mayanitam Snanartham Pratigrihyatam॥
Om Panchamritena Snapayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥

Shudhodaka Snanam (Post Abhisheka Cleansing bath)
Use fresh, clean water and bathe (clean) the Abhisheka Murti completely (or if Panchamrita Abhishekam was not done to Murti, dip in clean water and offer it to Her). Chant the following mantra

Jnanamurte Bhadrakali Divyamurte Sureshwari।
Shuddha Snanam Grihanedam Narayani Namoastu Te॥
Om Panchamritena Pashchachchhuddhodakena Snapayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥

If murti was used, wipe the murti will clean cloth.

Gandha Snanam (Perfumed Bath)
After shudhodaka, offer Maa Saraswati a perfumed bath (Generally Rose Water or Sandal Paste water) chanting the following mantra

Malayachala Sambhutam Chandanagaru Sambhavam।
Chandanam Devadeveshi Snanartha Pratigrihyatam॥
Om Gandhodakena Tatpashchachchhuddhodakena Cha Snapayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥

Vastram (Cloth)
After the perfumed bath, deck Maa Saraswati with Yellow or White color cloth (Shawl). This is over and above the clothes already on Her as part of Alankara. Chant the following mantra

Tantusantanasamyuktam Kala Kaushala Kalpitam।
Sarvangabharanam Shreshtha Vasanam Paridhiyatam॥
Om Vastram Samarpayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥

Chandanam (Sandal Paste)
Offer Sandal paste (Apply on the forehead of Maa Saraswati) Chanting the following mantra

Shrikhanda Chandanam Divyam Gandhadhyam Sumanoharam।
Vilepanam Sureshwari Chandanam Pratigrihyatam॥‌
Om Gandham Samarpayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥

Saubhagyadravyam (Items for Blessings of Good Fortune)
Offer Haldi, Kumkum, Sindoor (Saubhagya Dravya) to Maa Saraswati. Generally in the South India, only Kumkum, Turmeric and Sandal Powder is what is used for the Puja Chant following Mantra

Tambulapatram Mayaanitam Haridra Kumkumanjanam।
Sinduralakchakam Dasve Saubhagyadravyamishwari॥

Sowbhagya Dravyams (PC: http://kk-bhai.blogspot.com/)

Alankara (Decoration or Ornaments)
After Saubhagyadravya offering, offer jewellery (Alankara) to Maa Saraswati (if it is already done during preliminary alankara, offer Akshata-Turmeric/Kumkum coated rice) while chanting following Mantra.

Ratnakankanakechura Kanchi Kundala Nupuram।
Muktaharam Kiritancha Grihanabharanani Me॥
Om Alankarana Samarpayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥

Pushpa (Flowers)
Offer various kinds of flowers to Maa Saraswati while chanting Mantra given below. Use predominantly, white or yellow flowers which is Her favourite colors and also it suits Vasanta Panchami Theme:

Saraswati Pushpa Samarpan Mantra in Hindi
Malyadini Sugandhini Malyadini Vai Prabho।
Mayaanitani Pushpani Grihana Parameshwari॥
Om Pushpam Pushpamalam Cha Samarpayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥

Dhupam (Incense Stick)
Next offer Dhupa (Incense stick) to Maa Saraswati. Chant the Mantra below.

Vanaspatirasod‌bhuto Gandhadhyo Gandha Uttamah।
Aghreyah Narayani Dhupoayam Pratigrihyatam॥
Om Dhupamaghrapayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥

Deepam (Lamp)
Light a lamp Deepa to Maa Saraswati while chanting following Mantra.

Sajyam Cha Vartisamyuktam Vahnina Yojitam Maya।
Deepam Grihana Deveshi Trailokyatimirapaham॥
Om Deepam Darshayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥

Naivedya (Food/Eatables Offered to God)
Offer Naivedhya – food or eatables like Fruits, Payasa (Kheer), Sweetmeats (Laddu, Kesar Sweets etc) to Maa Saraswati. Once again ensure that it is predominantly yellow or white offerings. Chant

Sharkaraghrita Samyuktam Madhura Svaduchottamam।
Upahara Samayuktam Naivedyam Pratigrihyatam॥
Om Naivedyam Nivedayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥

Achamaniyam (Cleansing Post Naivedya)
After Naivedya offering, offer water to Maa Saraswati for drinking and Achamana while chanting following Mantra.

Eloshiralavangadi Karpuraparivasitam।
Prashanartha Kritam Toyam Grihana Parameshwari॥
Om Naivedyante Achamaniyam Samarpayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥

Tambulam (Beter leaf with Nuts)
Place Tambula (Betee leaf with betel nuts) in front of Maa Saraswati. Tambula is expression of appreciation of the person/God, to whom it is offered. It is generally given to all guests visiting home and in Puja it is expression of gratitude to God. Chanting Mantra below while offering the same during Saraswati Puja.

Pugi Phalam Mahadivyam Nagavallidalairyutam।
Ela Churnadi Samyuktam Tambulam Pratigrihyatam॥
Om Elalavanga Tambula Samarpayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥

Dakshina (Symbolic Gift)
After Tambula, offer Dakshina (gift) to Maa Saraswati. Chant the following Mantra.

Hiranyagarbha Garbhastham Hemabijam Vibhavasoh।
Ananta Punya PhaladaMaah Shantim Prayachchha Me॥
Om Dakshinam Samarpayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥

Mangalaarti
Perform Maa Saraswati Aarti after chanting following Mantra.

Kadaligarbhasambhutam Karpuram Tu Pradipitam।
Arartikyamaham Kurve Pashya Me Varado Bhava॥
Om Karpurarartikya Samarpayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥

Pradakshina Namaskara (Circumbulation)
After Aarti, now offer symbolic Pradakshina (circumambulate from your right to left) with flowers & Akshate while chanting following Mantra.

Om Pradakshinam Samarpayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥

Pushpanjali
Offer flowers filled in Anjali (by joining palm of both hands) to Maa Saraswati while chanting following Mantra.

Nanasugandha Pushpaishcha Yathakalauddaverapi।
Pushpanjali Mayadattam Grihana Parameshwari॥
Om Mantra Pushpanjali Yuktam Namaskaram Samarpayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥

Sashtanga Namaskaara (Prostration)
Offer Sashtanga or Uddanda Namaskaara is complete state of surrender, entire body lying down on stomach on the floor. – prostrating before the Maa Saraswati with atleast Eight parts of the body essentially touching the floor – Toes, Knees, Palms, Chest & Forehead.
Ladies do not offer Sashtanga Namaskaara instead offer Panchanga Namaskaara. The panchanga namaskara is done when the woman kneels down with palms joined together or touching the feet of the revered one in front. According to the scriptures the Sashtanga Namaskara is not done because the womb and the breasts of women should not touch the ground. The breast is a part of the woman’s body which creates within itself the nourishment for the foetus and the womb holds the life of the foetus. Therefore, it should not come in contact with the ground. Chant Mantra below.

Namodevyai Mahadevyai Shivayai Satatam Namah।
Namah Prakrityai Bhadrayai Niyatah Pranatah SMaam॥
Tamagnivarnam Tapasajvalantim Vairochanim Karmaphaleshu Jushtam।
Durgam Devim Sharanamaham Prapadye Sutarasi Tarase Namah॥
Devi Vachamanajanayanta Devastam Vishvarupah Pashvo Vadanti।
Sa No Mandreshamurjam Duhana Dhenurvagasmanupa Sushtutaitu॥
Kalaratrim Brahmastutam Vaishnavim SkandaMaaram।

Saraswatimaditim Dakshaduhitaram Namamah Pavanam Shivam॥

Sashtanga and Panchanga Namaskaara (PC: https://devudaoodevuda.wordpress.com/)

On this auspicious day of Vasanta Panchami/Basant Panchami
Prayers to Maa to Saraswati bless you and your near ones in abundance

Saraswati Puja in Smt Sweta Joshi ji home – File Pic from 2022
As can be seen in the picture above, the flowers, vastra, prasadais predominantly Yellow and White,

Northerly Ascent – Makara Sankaranti

Sankranti depicts transition of the Sun from one rashi (constellation) to the next. Thus there are 12 Sankrantis every year. Makara Sankranti is considered the most pious and this is generally a festival that is aligned to the solar cycle (most of the other festivals are aligned to the Lunar cycle)

The Makara Sankranti festival marks official end of the winter season and signals beginning of the spring, from harsher chillness to moderate climate – a sign of hope and prosperity as described by Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji of The Art of Living.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

It also marks a change in season, as from this day the Sun begins its Northern Hemishperic (Uttarayana) movement from Southern Hemispheric movement (Dakshinayana). Uttaryana is considered a phase for Divinity where are important events of the life are planned and carried out. Which signficance of Makara Sankranti is seasonal (change of season from winter to sprin) it also marks sun’s transit into Makar Raashi (Capricorn). It also has religious significance as it is the day Humans pay their respects to Bhagwan Surya (Sun) as it is His energy that enables, nourishes and sustains life on earth. While many region observe it as harvest festival, it also is the time to celebrate abundance when they reap the fruits of their labour.

According to our scriptures, it is on Makar Sankranti that Bhagwan Vishnu defeated demons, beheaded and buried them under a mountain. Significance of this act is exterminating all negativities of one’s life and giving way to Dharma paving way to live well and prosper. Makara Sankranti is considered suitable for Sadhana (spiritual practices like Yoga, Bhajans, Meditation) as the Chetana (consciousness) is considered high during this period.

Another belief is that Maa Sankranti, a Deity killed Sankarasur on this day and the day after killing Sankrasura, She kills another asura, Kinkarasur. This is why this day is known as Kinkrant.

Significance of Ellu-Bella (Sesame seed and Jaggery)

In Karnataka (and in Maharashtra) and possibly many other states, it is important to give Sesame seed and Jaggery along with Peanuts and wish everyone saying “ಎಳ್ಳು ಬೆಲ್ಲಾ ತಿಂದು ಒಳ್ಳೆ ಮಾತಾಡೋನ (Ellu-Bella tindu Olle maataadona) which means, let us have Sesame seeds and Jaggery and speak good/ nice words. In Marathi the same wish is तिळगुळ घ्या आणि गोड गोड बोला (Til Gul Ghya aani god god bola)

Ellu Bella, one of the most important Naivedya and Prasada

Sesame seed is black on the outside, and white on the inside. The message it gives us is, ‘Maintain purity inside’. If you scrub the sesame seed, it becomes white outside also. We are like a sesame seed with respect to this universe. If you see, what is our significance in this universe, what is life? Next to nothing, like a sesame seed – a mere speck! We are minuscule. We are tiny and sweet; delightful like sesame seeds with jaggery. So, stay small and sweet and you will truly become big. – Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Yet another significance as explained by an elderly relative, this festival is also the time to forget the differences, bury hatchets and come together. Sesame seeds representing individual and Jaggery that is sticky, bonding it together.

Sankranti festival is celebrated towards the end of winter, all the food prepared for this festival are such that it provides warmth and energy to our body. Jaggery, Sesame seeds peanuts keeps the body warm and gives energy.

Rituals and Observances

General practice (this is specifically by us and predominantly a South India based, especially Karnataka practice

Wake up early in the morning before sunrise and offer Arghya (oblations) to Bhagwan Surya. For those access to any Holy river, this holy ritualistic bath along with Arghya Pradhana is performed there.

Santhosh Shanbag Swami offering Arghya during one of our Shabarimale Pilgrimage on the banks of Holy Pampa
Yours Truly after the ritualistic bath in Holy Pampa

We then perform Arati to Bhagwan Surya after which Puja is performed and Naivedya offered to the God. After which it is generally having food that suits the climatic conditions which is in transitory phase. The mantra in praise of Bhagwan Surya as below is chanted.

ॐ ह्रीं ह्रीं सूर्याय नमः
ॐ ह्रीं घृणिः सूर्य आदित्यः क्लीं ॐ ।
ॐ घृणिं सूर्य्य: आदित्य:
ॐ ऐहि सूर्य सहस्त्रांशों तेजो राशे जगत्पते, अनुकंपयेमां भक्त्या, गृहाणार्घ्य दिवाकर:।
ॐ ह्रीं ह्रीं सूर्याय सहस्रकिरणाय मनोवांछित फलम् देहि देहि स्वाहा।

Pooja and Naivedya
Business end of any Festival

Please click this link to read Significance of Pongal, Sankranti, Lohri as explained by Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

For traditional way Pongal is celebrated in a particular region of Tamil Nadu, you can read by old article, Pongal – Tribute to our Culture & Nature

Wishing everyone and their near ones, a very Happy Makara Sankranti/Pongal/Lohri/Til Sakraat/ Magha/Mela/Ghughuti/Bhogi/Sakraat/Pedda Panduga/Pusna/Hangrai/Shishur Saenkraat.

On this auspicious day, wishing your life moves northwards, every moment filled with joy, prosperity, peace and health

Devi Suktam, Durga Saptashati & Navaratri

Starting this article with a clarification for readers’ benefit differentiation between the Devi Suktam or Vaak Suktam or Vaagambhrini Sukta of Rigveda and that we often confuse with the Devi Suktam of Durga Saptashati of Markandeya Purana. The Article is about the latter i.e. Devi Suktam of Durga Saptashati of Markandeya Purana.

Rigvediya Devi Suktam or Vak Suktam (Vaagambhirini Suktam), is the oldest sukta dedicated to Universal Mother Divine. A Hymn of 8 verses (mantras) from Rig Veda. It is the 125th sukta in the 10th mandala of the Rig Veda. This is much older to the Markandeya purana and also believed to pre-date even Tridevi concept (three principal female Deities – Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati). One of the unique feature of Rigvediya Devi Suktam is that the suktas (or the hymns) are not composed by Poet in praise of Mother Divine, but her own elucidation of Her Glory (called Atmastuti in Samskrutam). Texts further indicate that Rigvediya Devi Suktam was composed and sung by the Rishika Vaak Ambhrini, in a state of supreme bliss upon uniting with Mother Divine – Vaak, which means Primordial sound of Speech. Thus it is considered as a composition of the Mother Goddess in Glory of Herself. (Will write about this after thorough reading of the scripture and consulting experts of the Text) Please note that many websites wrongly describe the History attributing it to Rishika Vaagambhrigi breaking into a dance after a realization that her life originated from a single source of infinite consciousness that had no perceptable form and it was omnipresent. It is also wrong attributed to the superlative praising the ultimate source of consciousness Ya Devi Sarva Bhuteshu whereas it is Rigvediya Devi Suktam (Vaagambhrigi Suktam) that has this history.

One of the chants that is prevalent during Navaratris is the Tantroktam Devi Suktam – the Slokas from 9 through 82, in the 5th Chapter of Durga Saptashati, which is a part of Devi Mahatmyam. More popular are the 21 verses (6 to 26) that begins with “ya devi sarva bhuteshu‘. Tantroktam Devi Suktam is a part of Markandeya Purana.

Pic Courtesy: By ShotgunMavericks – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Namo Devyai Mahadevyai Shivayai Satatam Namaha
Namaha Prakrityai Bhadrayai Niyataah Pranataah Sma Taam |1|

Roudrayai Namo Nityayi Gouryayai Dhatrayai Namo Namaha |
Jyothsnayayai Chendurupinyayai Sukhayayai Satatam Namaha |2|

Kalyannyai Pranatam Vridhyayai Sidhyayai Kurmo Namo Namah |
Nairutyayai Bhybritaam Lakshmyai Sharvanyayai Tey Namo Namah |3|

Durgayai Durgapaaraayai, Saaraayai Sarvakaarine |
Khyatyai Tadhiva Krishnayai Dhumrayai Satatam Namaha |4|

Ati Soumyati Roudrayai, Nataastastastyai Namo Namaha |
Namo Jagatpratishtayai, Devyayai Krityayai Namo Namah |5|

Yaa Devi Sarva-Bhutessu Vishnumaayeti Shabditaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |6|

Yaa Devi Sarva-Bhutessu Chetanety-Abhidhiiyate |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |7|

Yaa Devi Sarva-Bhutessu Buddhi-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |8|

Yaa Devi Sarva-Bhutessu Nidra-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |9|

Yaa Devi Sarva-Bhutessu Kssudhaa-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |10|

Yaa Devi Sarva-Bhutessu Chaayaa-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |11|

Yaa Devi Sarva-Bhutessu Shakti-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |12|

Yaa Devi Sarva-Bhutessu Trshnnaa-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |13|

Yaa Devi Sarva-Bhutessu Kshaanti-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |14|

Yaa Devi Sarva-Bhutessu Jaati-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |15|

Yaa Devi Sarva-Bhutessu Lajjaa-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |16|

Yaa Devi Sarva-Bhutessu Shaanti-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |17|

Yaa Devi Sarva-Bhutessu Shraddhaa-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |18|

Yaa Devii Sarva-Bhutessu Kaanti-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |19|

Yaa Devi Sarva-Bhutessu Lakshmii-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |20|

Yaa Devi Sarva-Bhutessu Vrtti-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |21|

Yaa Devi Sarva-Bhutessu Smrti-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |22|

Yaa Devi Sarva-Bhutessu Dayaa-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |23|

Yaa Devi Sarva-Bhutessu Tushtti-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |24|

Yaa Devi Sarva-Bhutessu Maatr-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |25|

Yaa Devi Sarva-Bhutessu Bhraanti-Ruupenna Samsthitaa |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |26|

Indriyaannaam-Adhisstthaatrii Bhutaanaam Ca-Akhilessu |
Yaa Bhuutessu Satatam Tasyai Vyaapti-Devyai Namo Namah |27|

Citi-Ruupenna Yaa Krtsnam-Etad-Vyaapya Sthitaa Jagat |
Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah |28|

Maa Durga

Significance of the Chant

As Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, Spiritual Guru and Founder of The Art of Living Foundation says, “The chant shows the deeper facets of the Devi which are often missed. It represents the Devi’s presence across universe and time. With Devi’s presence in the things, people, and situations we dislike and like both, the chant is meant to evoke irrevocable equanimity in a devotee. Let us understand how the Devi is present everywhere and at all times.

Photograph: Gurudev in Yagyashala, Art of Living, Bengaluru Ashram – 25th September 2022

Omnipresent: Devi is present as consciousness in everyone. There is no place where the Devi is not present.
In all forms: Nature and its distortions are all forms of the Devi. Beauty, peace are all forms of the Devi. Even if you get angry, that too is the Devi. If you fight, that too is the Devi.
Ancient & new: Every moment is alive with consciousness. Our consciousness is ‘Nith nutan’ ancient and new at the same time. Objects are either old or new, but in nature you will find the old and the new existing together. The sun is old and new too. A river has fresh water flowing in it, every moment but yet is very old. In the same way, human life is very ancient but it is new at the same time. Your mind is the same.

Happy Navaratri to you & all your near ones. May Nava Durgas bestow Her choicest blessings on you.

Jai Mata Di