Basant Panchami – The festival celebrated as Saraswati Puja

Basant Panchami - The festival celebrated as Saraswati Puja

Why Basant Panchami is celebrated as Saraswati Puja ?

The weather played truant this year.  Amidst the gloom and the cold that finally decided to make its presence felt – the season of ‘Basant’ has already arrived with the celebration of 'Basant Panchami' or ‘Vasant Panchami’ – which falls on the fifth day of the month of ‘Magha.’  It is the first day of spring, and that is why it is celebrated as Saraswati Puja, as Sufi Basant at the Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, as the festival of Kites in Punjab and as a harvest festival.

What is Sufi Basant ?

On one of our trips out and about in the city of Delhi – we found ourselves fascinated by the “Sufi Basant” which we’d heard much about but finally got to witness this year.  The charming legend behind the Sufi Basant has its roots in the love of the poet Amir Khusro for his spiritual master – Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. Legend has it that the master was deep in mourning after the untimely death of his nephew and all efforts to bring him back to a normal life were in vain. Even the efforts of his favourite disciple met with no success.

Then one day, Khusro noticed a group of young women dressed in yellow, carrying yellow marigold flowers as they made their way to a temple to celebrate Basant Panchami.

Inspiration struck and the devoted disciple donned a yellow ‘ghaghra’ covered his face with an ‘odhni’, wore ‘genda phool’ garlands around his neck and adorned his ‘dhol’ with ‘sarson’ flowers. Thus – he burst into the room where his Master was – all the while singing and exhorting him to celebrate Basant. It is said that the Auliya – recognising Khusro, burst out laughing and the pall of gloom was magically lifted.

Since then and until today – Sufi Basant continues to be celebrated at the Dargah of the Auliya with devotees celebrating the onset of spring, rejuvenation and the love of master and disciple.  This is the day when devotees wear yellow, offer mustard flowers and greens and yellow marigold flowers on the graves of Nizamuddin Auliya and Amir Khusro.

Celebrations continue with processions of followers winding their way through the lanes of Nizamuddin ‘basti’ as the sound of ‘quawwalis’ fill the atmosphere – making the entire place seem truly magical.

And thus another season, another cycle of life begins...

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