Saraswati puja is performed with a lot of pomp and show by the Indian people. Especially people belonging to Eastern India consider it as a big day. Shri Krishna is considered Adi Devtaa of this festival, so the festival is celebrated with great fervor in Vrindavan. People celebrate Basant Panchami by wearing clothes in various shades of yellow color.
The idol wears white clothes, symbolizing purity. The sari of the Deity is white or yellow dyed. The place where the idol is kept for the puja is decorated with Rangoli. A flat low stool made of wood is covered with yellow cloth and the idol is placed on it, facing East.
Then, the face of the idol remains covered till the priest begins chanting the mantras at the commencement of the puja. A green coconut is placed on an earthen pot with a red checked cotton cloth called “Gamocha”. Marigold flowers are used to decorate the deity. Students place their books and pen in front of the goddess seeking blessings.
The offerings to the goddess are mainly fruits. Most significant are Berries from the wild plum tree. Sweets must include puffed rice, jaggery and yogurt. Family members bathe early and dress in yellow attire and assemble in front of the Goddess. The earthen pot is tied with a string which will be untied only on the next day by the priest before Bisarjan or the immersion ceremony.
A havan is done by the priest using special wood, ghee, joss sticks and incense. There absence of a burnt smell signifies the success of the puja. A diya or lamp is also kept lit along with the prasad. A handful of flowers particularly marigolds and flame of the forest is given to each devotee to offer to the goddess as “pushpanjali”.
The offering is done in batches of devotees who repeat mantras after the priest. Arati is performed by the priest in the morning and again in the evening. This is done while chanting Sanskrit slokas and accompanied by the blowing of conch shells and the beating of drums. The lit lamp used during the Arati is passed around for each devotee to warm his/ her hand and touch their heads.
Nobody touches books on that day. This signifies that the goddess is blessing the books placed in front of her. The next day the children take back their books but stand before the goddess and read from them or write in them. The string on the earthen pot is untied and it signifies the end of the puja. Yogurt, Khoi (puffed rice) and bananas are offered to the goddess as she departs.
Bisarjan is act of floating/ sinking of the idol in a nearby river or pond. Alternatively, the deity remains in the family puja room for a year till the next Saraswati Puja.