Saraswathi Pooja in South India 2017 Date
Friday, 29 September 2017
Goddess Saraswathi is the god of wisdom, knowledge, education and arts. She bestows her devotees with good education and knowledge.
When it comes to offering Pooja or special festivals associated with the goddess of education, arts and music, there is not much you can find! However, Saraswathi Pooja is one of the most revered and grandly celebrated festivals in South India. It is celebrated in every shop, from roadside vendors, petty shops to government offices, corporate companies etc. Every individual celebrate Saraswathi Pooja.
Other name for this Pooja is Ayudha Pooja, which means weapon worship and which is an integral part of the Navratri festival. Saraswathi Pooja is celebrated at homes as a part of Dussehra in South India which, of course, coincides with Dussehra, celebrated all over India.
However, don’t confuse Saraswathi Pooja in South India with Vasant Panchami Saraswati Puja celebrated in east and north India.
When is Saraswathi Pooja in South India Celebrated
Saraswathi Pooja is a two-fold festival. The ninth day of Navratri aka Dussehra is celebrated as Saraswathi Pooja in south India. The tenth day, i.e the last day of Dussehra celebration, called Vijaya Dasami also forms part of this festival.
Is there any difference between Navratri and Dussehra? The major difference between is number of days the celebration takes place. Navratri refers to celebrating the festival for nine-nights and Dussehra refers to ten days celebration.
In Kerala and Tamilnadu, the ninth day is observed as Saraswathi Pooja where as in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, it is celebrated on the tenth day.
Legends Associated with Saraswathi Pooja
Goddess Saraswathi forms part of the trinity goddess, who manifests as Maha Saraswathi on the ninth day of Navratri. The ninth day is called Maha Navami and the tenth day is called Maha Dasami.
Trinity God Maha Shakthi
It was the day when Goddess Sakthi aka Kali destroyed the demon Magishasuran. The demon troubled the people immensely. According to legends, the trinity god manifested as Maha Shakthi and created the most powerful weapons to kill the demon. The weapons were considered holy weapons and people then worshipped the weapons used to kill the asuran. Gradually, this habit nurtured into worshipping and praying the weapons and tools used in daily life, as a part of profession. This is called Ayudha Puja.
Warrior Prince Arjuna retrieved his weapon
Another legend also attributes to worshipping the weapons that led to victory. This was the day when the Pandava warrior prince Arjuna retrieved his entire weapon after the end of their Agyatvaas! The ninth day of Navratri marked the end of the one year agyatvaas. The next day, on Dasami, Pandavas turned victorious and plotted to defeat the Kauravas army and they succeeded.
This was the day on which Lord Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu killed Ravana, who abducted his wife, Sita, an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. All the nine days of Navratri are dedicated to goddesses Lakshmi, Durga and Saraswati equally. However, Saraswati, “the goddess of arts, wisdom and learning,” appears to get little more importance in South India.
So, while rest of India celebrates Durga Puja on the Maha Navami, South Indians celebrate it as Saraswathi Pooja.
Celebration of Saraswathi Pooja
Celebration at Homes
Navratri is the term used to mention the festival that is accompanied and celebrated with Kolu displays at home. Kolu refers to arranging and showcasing the miniature dolls of gods, goddesses, spiritual personalities, animals, birds, arts, photos, etc. beautifully. Certain groups in South India have the habit of Kolu display during Navratri. The festival begins on the new moon day and ends on the ninth day, with Saraswathi Pooja.
In the evenings, special poojas, offerings, etc. are made to the kolu display. Every night is dedicated to a form of Goddess Lakshmi. The first eight days are dedicated to eight forms of goddess. The ninth day is dedicated to Goddess Saraswathi in South India. In north India, it is associated with Goddess Durga.
Even those who don’t display Kolu in their homes celebrate Saraswathi Pooja.
Rituals performed at homes on Sarawathi Puja in South India
Those who have kolu display at home, generally display the trinity goddess, Lakshmi, Saraswathi and Parvathi in form of idols. Otherwise, Goddess Saraswathi is also depicted along with Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi. In either case, an idol of the goddess is displayed in Kolu.
In case, if there is no kolu display at home, devotees generally buy an idol of goddess Saraswathi or use the framed photo of the goddess to perform the Pooja. The idol placed in the display is used to perform the Pooja with special decorations.
White is the favorite color of the goddess Saraswati. Most of the offerings, Pooja items and prasads are made in white or yellow color.
A low rise stool is placed before kolu display or in the Pooja room. The stool is decorated with a piece of silk cloth in white or yellow color. Those who afford, buy a white silk saree for the Pooja. The idol or photo is placed on the decorated stool.
White symbolizes purity. A garland made with white flowers decorates the goddess. Any kind of white or yellow flowers are used to decorate and offer Pooja. The special flower for Saraswathi Puja in South India is the white lily. It is believed that those who offer prayers and Pooja with white lily or white lotus receive all her blessing.
Similarly, desserts made with white ingredients like milk say, kheer, plain milk (boiled milk), desserts made with coconut, poha, etc. are offered as Prasad. In addition, all seasonal fruits are offered to the goddess. The offerings are all about sweetness.
Besides flowers and sweets, books, note books, stationery items, etc. also forms part of the Saraswathi Pooja offerings in South India just like Saraswati Puja or Vasant Panchami in East India. It is a common practice in most households to place the subject books or note books in which the children are somewhat weak. Every item placed at the feet of the goddess is adorned with sandalwood paste and vermilion.
Those who are in the field of arts, say, musician or writer or an artist also place the important equipments they use during the Pooja. For instance, musicians offer the miniature of the musical instrument or even place the instrument they use when they offer Pooja to Goddess Saraswati.
Whatever placed as a part of Pooja offerings (Except Prasads) are not removed until the next day. Children love this festival as they are not allowed to study on this day! However, they should read at least a verse or write something on Vijaya Dasami.
So, the last day of Navratri ends with a bang by celebration of Saraswathi Pooja.
Celebration of Saraswathi Pooja at Offices and Business Premises
Almost all offices, from petty shops or massive corporate companies celebrate Saraswathi Pooja in South India. This is referred s Ayudha Pooja. Ayudha means tools! The business premises, shops and even hotels observe Ayudha Pooja.
The shops and premises are cleaned a day before Saraswathi Pooja. It is then decorated with paper decorations, colorful lights and flowers.
Diyas are lamped and the framed picture of goddess Saraswathi is decorated with garlands. A typical aarti is performed. In offices, puffed rice, palm sugar, poha and fruits are offered as Prasad.
When it comes to Saraswathi Pooja in South India, it is more of puffed rice and palm sugar mixture, distributed everywhere as Prasad.
Auspiciousness of Saraswathi Pooja
Goddess Saraswathi is one of the few deities with no temples or shrines in rest of India other than south Indian states. In fact, she is not worshipped in any temple, neither is she a part of any offering nor any special Pooja is performed except in South Indian and East India. It is only in South India that a few Saraswathi temples can be found like those in Basara, Kaleswaram, Wargal, Sringeri and Kuthanur. Saraswathi Pooja is the only festival dedicated to this goddess of education. So, these two days are very special in south India.
Without the blessing of goddess Saraswathi, it is impossible to attain education or be successful in other fields because knowledge forms basis of every work. Children who are weaker in academics are generally recommended to chant the slokas or hymns of Goddess Saraswathi.
It is immaterial if you have abundance of wealth or power, without knowledge and wisdom it means nothing.
Saraswathi Pooja is a public holiday, almost everywhere in South India. Even the shops remain closed for the entire day after the morning or noon Pooja. No body works or even allowed to study after performing the Pooja on the Saraswathi day.
Goddess Saraswathi forms major part of everyone’s life in south India. She gives wisdom and blesses devotees with knowledge. Knowledge is power!
The term Vijaya refers to Victory. The next day, Vijaya Dasami is very auspicious to start new ventures or work. Vijaya Dasami is quite auspicious and children are enrolled in school for the first time on this day. Most schools offer admission for the toddlers and kinder garden children on Vijaya Dasami.
With respect to business or profession, those who are willing to commence their business may consider Vijaya Dasami to proceed with the same.
‘Vidhya’ means education, bliss of knowledge, and wisdom. ‘Arambam’ means the beginning. Vidhyarambam is very famous on Maha Dasami in Kerala and Tamilnadu. Many families initiate the writing and reading of the kids on this day.
Generally, paddy or rice is spread on the floor. After offering prayer to goddess Saraswathi, the child is made to write the first letter of the alphabet in the grain.
Why you are not allowed to work or study on the day of Saraswathi Pooja in South India?
The reason is very simple. You do almost same work every day. Whether or not you take rest, you should rest and respect the core elements that provide you knowledge. So, the tools, books, and even some utensils are placed in Pooja to get the blessings of the goddess.
Happy Saraswathi Pooja.