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Goddess Benzaiten: For ages, the Japanese have worshipped Buddhist manifestation of Maa Saraswati

Saraswati Puja or Basant Panchami is celebrated on the first day of spring. Goddess Saraswati is worshipped on this day and the day also marks the start of the spring season. People across India worship the Hindu deity, who is the goddess of knowledge, language, music, and all other art forms.

On this day, people also begin preparing for Holi, which falls forty days after Basant Panchami. This day is also considered very auspicious for a variety of other endeavours, including marriage, engagements, mundans, and more.

Yellow colour is associated with Saraswati because it represents knowledge and also denotes mustard fields, which are associated with the advent of the spring season. Moreover, Saraswati, the consort of Brahma, is said to have been born on Basant Panchami – the fifth day of the lunar month of Magh (which falls in January-February) and that is why yellow is the colour of the day since it represents the season Vasant or spring, thus, yellow flowers and sweets are offered to the goddess as part of the puja rituals, while devotees adorn themselves in shades of the same colour.

Goddess Saraswati’s pictures show her wearing a white sari and sitting on a white Nelumbo nucifera lotus. Saraswati is mostly associated with the colour white which signifies the purity of knowledge. Her white sari symbolizes that she is the embodiment of pure knowledge. Because the lotus is a symbol of Supreme Reality in Hinduism, the white lotus represents Supreme Reality.

Saraswati usually uses a swan as her vehicle. The swan is believed to have a sensitive beak that allows it to distinguish milk from a mixture of milk and water. As a result, the swan signifies the ability to distinguish between good and evil. A swan’s ability to stay and swim in water without being influenced by waves is another distinguishing attribute. The use of a swan as her transport demonstrates Maa Saraswati’s firm judgement, without becoming attracted to or influenced by the waves of the world or illusions (Maya) on the path to Divine Spirit.

While these are some fascinating insights about the Hindu festival and Goddess Saraswati, another noteworthy fact is that Goddess Saraswati is revered not only in India but also in Japan. In fact, the Japanese Buddhist goddess Benzaiten, the goddess of everything that flows: water, time, knowledge, and music, has origins in the Hindu goddess Saraswati and shares a lot of the same characteristics.

Over time she evolved into a Buddhist goddess and is now included as the only female amongst the Seven Gods of Fortune also known as Shichi Fukujin. Both Benzaiten and Saraswati of Japanese and Indian mythology respectively are regarded as the goddess of eloquence, intellect, speech, knowledge, and music.


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