For those people, who are not aware of Saraswati puja, I would like to mention that, Saraswati is the Hindu Goddess of education, arts and music. Saraswati Puja is worshipping the Goddess on the fifth day of magha (Bengali month). She is attired in saree and carries a veena in her hands. She is accompanied by a white goose. Moreover, it is the day when Bengali children commence writing in front of Goddess Saraswati, by writing in chalk on a slate. For other students, it is the day to seek blessings of the Goddess by offering their books, notebooks and pen. Joyfully, they are free to skip the mundane routine of reading and writing on that day and the parents have to agree. 🙂
For those people, who are not aware of Valentine’s Day, I would like to mention that it is celebrated on 14th February every year as a festival related to romanticism since 14th century. Although, the date is related to imprisonment of Saint Valentine, it is now a part of the mainstream western culture and also other various parts of the world to be celebrated as a day symbolizing love and affection. In mainstream culture, it is symbolized by cupid, vibrant red colour and heart shapes of various sizes.
We, Bengali people, have a tendency to celebrate each and every occasion we encounter, irrespective of religion, faith and culture. It is beyond saying that, a day like Saraswati puja has to be celebrated. It is mostly the celebration of students. However, the puja takes place in most Hindu households in Bengal other than schools and colleges, so families are also involved in this ritual.
Now the question is: How Saraswati Puja is related to Valentine’s Day?
The logical answer is no, they are not related. Neither have I seen these two occasions occurring on same day. People now have started calling Saraswati puja as Valentine’s day for Bengali. Although, we celebrate the latter as much as we can like west, the former has a different charm altogether. It adds the charm of love in our own way to the puja festival.
I suppose love has its own definition in different phases of our lives. Most innocent and cute one happens to be the teenage one. Dreamy world, worry free mind, silly infatuations, impractical beliefs, puberty do have a strong foothold in our heart. Love loses these charms afterwards in life. It has a different meaning in this age.
As I mentioned earlier, Saraswati puja is a whole day celebration for the students. It is obvious that they can free themselves up from parental admonition to some extent and let themselves carried away by whatever interests them the most. What could be better than love to drift you into euphoria?
That is where Saraswati puja comes into picture as a medium to be elated.
It is the only day when boys can enter into girls’ schools or colleges without being rebuked by the security personnel or teachers. How could they limit themselves not entering to the place they coveted to get into? How could they miss looking at the cliques of pretty saree cladded girls? 🙂 🙂
I still remember how the guys tried to convince each other to select oneself a representative from school, who would be responsible to invite other schools on Saraswati puja. The representative’s responsibility was to carry the invitation card on behalf of his school and meet principals of every other schools nearby to invite all students of other schools. You might wander, how this task could be special? Well, you get to enter into girls’ school way before Saraswati puja and trust me, it could trigger a series of stories told by the representatives to other students, irrespective of truthfulness of those stories. 🙂
No surveyor has thought of surveying as how many courtship proposals were made or rejected on that single day for a sample set, so, I won’t talk about it. However, the ambience is festive, moreover romantic on this day.
Boys and girls, wear ethnic dresses, flock in groups from one school or college to another. You can spot one or two pairs slowing down their speeds just to remain close to each other and not to lose pace with the rest of the group. Here is how you can spot people with fledgling commitments.
Mostly, all festivities come to end by late afternoon, leaving a pleasant, romantic breeze for the rest of the evening. Conservatives or radicals might say otherwise, however, I think Saraswati puja is much more than Valentine’s Day for Bengali. The term can be used in colloquial way but, there is lot more to Saraswati puja.