After the month of Paush comes Magh. In this month, Saraswati pooja is celebrated. Saraswati is the goddess of learning. She represents creative arts, poetry, science and music. She is a graceful and beautiful goddess dressed in white apparel and seated on a lotus flower with a swan at her side. In each Bengali school, students celebrate Saraswati pooja with great devotion. They keep their books and pens on the altar of the goddess to be blessed. Small children are initiated into formal learning on this day in the presence of the goddess. Though it is an elaborate pooja performed by the priest in temples or public congregations, a simple Saraswati pooja can be performed at home for the initiation of a child into formal learning (Haate Khori)or even otherwise. This is a practice in many Bengali homes.
Idol of Saraswati Flowers Fresh fruits Especially berries(kool) Sweets(any) For prashad Rice paste for alpana(floor designs) Prodeep (lamp) with cotton wicks Incense sticks Water
For Haate Khori a slate/notebook, chalk/pencil.
After consecrating a clean place, an altar is created to seat the goddess. This can be a raised platform made from a low, wooden table covered with a new/clean cloth. The floor can also be used. Geometric and floral patterns are made with the rice paste on the floor. The goddess is seated, The lamp and incense is lighted and the prashad, consisting of fruits and sweets, is offered. Then pushpanjali(floral offering) is performed by reciting the following mantra thrice: Saraswati mahabhage vidye kamalalochane Viswarupe vishalakshi vidyangdehi namastute Esho shachandana pushpa bilvapatranjali Namo Saraswatvayi devyayi namoh After the pushpanjali, the father or any other elder seats the child on his lap and guides his hand on the slate to write the first letter. This is Aum. This is followed usually by a few letters of the Bangla vowels and consonants and nowadays, the English ones as well. Once this is over, prashad is distributed.
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