This article is a chapter from the book “Hindu Fasts and Festivals”.
This is an important bathing day. All Hindus observe it. It is also known as Magh Sukla Panchami as it falls in the month of Magh (January-February). This is the festival that marks the first day of spring.
Vasanta means the spring season, which is very congenial for doing vigorous Yoga Sadhana.
Men, women and girls wear yellow cloth. The yellow colour is a sign of auspiciousness and spirituality. It represents the ripening of the spring crops. Even the food is coloured yellow by using saffron. All the folk get together and sing songs connected with spring.
All get up in the early morning, take bath and worship the sun, Mother Ganga, the Deity of the sacred river Ganges, and the earth.
On this memorable day, Lord Shiva burnt the god of love, Cupid. The gods had sent Cupid to tempt the Lord while he was absorbed in Samadhi, in order to beget a powerful son who would be able to destroy the wicked demon Tarakasura. Cupid discharged an arrow at Lord Shiva from behind a tree. Shiva became very greatly enraged. He opened His third eye and reduced Cupid to ashes. More details of this story are given in the chapter on Skanda Sashti.
The Bengalis call this festival Saraswathi Puja. They worship the Goddess Saraswathi on this day. The image of the Goddess is taken in procession and immersed in the holy Ganges.