Saraswati , Athena and Minerva
Godess of Learning
'Devi Saraswati' is Hindu deity of knowledge and music. Her worship in February is a house-hold affair.... mostly students are the initiators though the elders also join the ritual. Children, young boys and girls enjoy this festival most.
I started this 'puja' or wordhip when I was a child, As I grew older, I continued to be an active parrticipant of this festival ..... my young sons enjoyed this day's festivity so much ! Now , they are grown up and away from home... but,the elder son carried a small idol with him to New York and he would not forget to offer his prayer to the godess on the day of 'puja'.
The worship has laid-down rituals , a large part of it being recital of sanskrit 'mantra'. I have always handled this part myself aided by two books which are with me for decades !! Well... I now act 'priest ' for a neighbour's place as well.The books are so old that the pages have turned brown and are falling off !
The celebration for the young people is not over with offering the prayers . They walk in groups from one pandal to another, enjoying the sweatmeats and fruits which were offered to the godess .... and now distributed among those who offered the prayers !
The nearest we have in the Western mythology are Greek godess Athena and the Roman godess Minerva. They were godesses of not only learning and knowledge, but also, of war. But,'Devi Saraswati' has no connection with war. The stories of birth of Saraswati and Athena have some commonality.Saraswati was born out of the face of 'Brahma', Hindu god of Creation whereas Athena from the forehead of Zeus, the Greek's king of gods.Minerva is also believed to be born from the head of his father Tinia.
Calcutta sees thousands of Saraswati puja every year. Potters are very busy during January and February every year shaping idols of Saraswati out of clumps of clay.She has two hands, carrying the book of 'Vedas', oldest Hindu scripture and Veena, a stringed instrument.
I have here a few photos from my 'street photography' album, shot in a colony of potters and two of my household/neighbour's 'puja'.
Reference web sites:
'Devi Saraswati' - at the Potter's colony .... and at our homes
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