30 Days of Devotion
Day 11: Special Days
Saraswati’s special puja is the Vasant Panchami, a seasonal festival marking the beginning of spring. Indeed, the name literally means “fifth day of spring.” The date is decided on the lunar calendar. It usually falls towards the end of January or the beginning of February; this year (2015) it came on January 24th.
The festival itself is mainly celebrated in Northern India, where the change of seasons is most noticeable. In southern India, it is a purely religious festival without any real broad cultural significance beyond that. (The north of India, it should be remembered, was where the Saraswati River once flowed.)
However, in some areas Vasant Panchami is a holy day of Lord Shiva rather than Lady Saraswati. In fact, the festival began as the holy day of Kamadeva (a god of love) and his wife Rati. Vasant Panchami actually has quite a few regional and religious permutations, as it is also celebrated by Sufis and Sikhs (who are monotheists).