Saraswathi Pooja or Saraswathi Puja is an important segment of the Navaratri days, especially in South India. The last three days of 9days of Navratri beginning from Saptami till Navami is dedicated to Goddess Saraswathi. This is a major festival Southern states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala. This pooja is also observed for Durga and Saraswathi in other states like Gujarat, Maharashtra during the same period but with different rituals. This pooja is also called Saraswathi Balidan.
Saraswati Balidan 2023
Sun , 22nd Oct 2023
Saraswathi Pooja- an outlook
Saraswathi Puja commences the process of Saraswathi Avahanam / Avahan on the Saptami tithi called Mahasaptami. The last day of Navratri, Mahanavami day, is also celebrated as Ayudha Pooja or Saraswathi Puja. On this day books, writing pencils, drawing tools and weapon & tools are placed in the pooja room in front of the idol or an image of Goddess Saraswathi on Mahasaptami. Tools and things related to education is called “Pustaka Mandala” and are placed in the pooja altar to seek the blessings of Goddesses of Learning. These tools left in the altar untill the next day, the Vijayadashami day. On Vijayadashami after Saraswathi Punar Puja or Saraswathi Visarjan children commence new lessons or workers begin new projects. It is on Vijayadashami, a popular ceremony called Vidhyarambha where children are initiated into education.
Saraswathi Pooja & Balidan
On Mahanavami people perform a grand pooja for the Goddess invoked in their home on Mahanavami day, ninth tithi of the Ashwina masa, Shukla paksha period. A grand havan is performed in certain households. The rituals are explained in detail through various scriptures. According to which Saraswathi pooja is performed during the ‘Purva Ashadha Nakshatra’ on both Ashtami and Navami tithis. The culmination pooja called- Balidan puja is performed during ‘Uttara Ashadha Nakshatra’. Balidan is where sacrificial elements like coconuts, fruits are added to the fire in Havan or a Kushmanda- an ash gourd is sacrificed in the name of the Goddess.
Significance of Goddess Saraswathi
Goddess Saraswathi is one of the Trinity Goddesses. She is the deity of music, wisdom, arts and science. She is referred as ‘Sharada’, ‘Mahavidya Nila Saraswathi’, ‘Vidyadayini’, ‘Sharadamba’, ‘Veenapani’ and ‘Pustaka Dharini’. She is the consort of Lord Brahma, the creator energy, and resides in her abode called Brahmapura. Goddess Saraswathi is depicted as a goddess seated on a white lotus, draped in a white silk saree, and seen with four arms playing Veena, holding Vedas and a Japa mala. Her vehicle or mount is a swan, hansa or a peacock. It is believed that Lord Brahma created the Universe by equipping Her knowledge. Goddess Saraswathi is called Mother of the Vedas. She is worshipped by devotees of all age with full zeal and dedication. Her divine blessings can make us profound in life, bless life skills and success.
Saraswathi or iconic representation of similar energy forms are seen in various cultures like Jainism, Buddhism and Chinese, Vietnamese cultures.
Rituals during Saraswathi pooja and Balidan
On the day of Saraswathi pooja, devotees wake up early before sunrise and begin preparations for the pooja. They offer flowers to the goddess, set the books, tools and kitchen tools like knives, scissors, sewing tools like needle, thimble and other weapons like sickle, small swords are placed in front of the Goddess. Sandalwood paste and kumkum is applied to the tools. Mantra recital and light ceremony- aarti is performed. Neivedhya is offered to the pooja and later distributed as Prasad. On the day of Balidan, a sacred ‘Havan’ or homa is performed and several sacred offerings are made. ‘Uttara’ pooja for Goddess Saraswathi is performed before giving balidan to the Goddess. Seed mantra of ‘Om Aim Saraswathiyai Svaha’ is recited.
During Saraswathi Balidan, ritual offering of sacrificing live vegetables or fruits is done to appease the Goddess. Coconuts and dry fruits are offered in the Agni of the Havan Kund. Incense, lamps and flowers are offered to the deity, followed by aarti and special food offerings called ‘Naivedyam’. Devotees prepare special savouries and sweets that are white in colour since She is represented by the colour white. After the pooja, the naivedyam is distributed as ‘prasad’ amongst family and friends. Devotees also visit temples and sing bhajans in the praise of Goddess Saraswathi.
Saraswati Balidan festival dates between 2020 & 2030
Friday, 23rd of October
Wednesday, 13th of October
Tuesday, 4th of October
Sunday, 22nd of October
Friday, 11th of October
Wednesday, 1st of October
Sunday, 18th of October
Friday, 8th of October
Wednesday, 27th of September
Sunday, 14th of October
Saturday, 5th of October