Amongst the many of my “favorite things” about Hinduism is that many of the festivals, though various themselves, have various interpretations as to their root and significance, region to region in India.
Being a Western Hindu born into a different tradition, I am not culturally connected to a lot of these roots and significances. As such, I am a bit of a “home-made Hindu” though my devotion to my Ishtadevata Sri Lord Vishnu is no less sincere for it. But it is often left up to me to learn about the festivals and take away from it what I will based on my current understanding and my background.
This year Vasant Panchami happens to coincide with Valentine’s Day, a day for lovers. One of my favorite stories connected with Vasant Panchami goes thusly:
The poet Kalidasa was married off to a beautiful princess, but she rejected him after judging him to be a fool and a dullard. So Kalidasa decided to commit suicide. Just as he was about to do so, Saraswati appeared and instructed him to take a swim in the lake. Upon doing so, Kalidasa became a recepticle of knowledge and a brillant poet.
For this reason, on Vasant Panchami, Saraswati is worshiped as the Goddess of education.
But I also think it gives hope to men who may be dullards romantically speaking for 364 days of the year. Hope that Saraswati may inspire them with the words their souls long to express to the one they love. What a perfect bit of synchronicity that it coincides with Valentine’s Day.
Anyway that’s my interpretation of this particular story behind Vasant Panchami.