Saraswati The Goddess of Knowledge

Saraswati, the goddess of learning and knowledge, is represented as an extremely beautiful woman with a milk- white complexion. She normally wears white clothes, sits or stands on a water lily and has four arms. With one of her hands she is presenting a lotus to her husband, by whose side she constantly stands, and in the other she holds a book of palm leaves indicating learning. In one of her left hands she has a string of pearls and in the other she may hold a small vase or the hand may be in a boon giving pose. She is also represented with two arms, playing a stringed musical instrument called the Veena. She may also hold a conch, a wheel, a noose, a skull cap, a cup of ambrosia, a goad and a mace.

She presides over and protects the arts and is credited with the invention of writing. She is also the goddess of speech, the power through which knowledge expresses itself. In the Vedas Saraswati is primarily a river but in the hymns she is celebrated as both a river and a deity. Her origins are obscure but it is possible that she once had something to do with the river Saraswati in Rajasthan or with water in some other way. At all events, she seems to have been associated with the create properties that water has for seeds and vegetation. Being the goddess of learning, she is worshipped when a child is given instructions for the first time in reading and writing. Many schools in India start classes with a mass prayer to the goddess.

Festival: Saraswati Puja—Vasant Panchami

Sarawati is worshipped in January-February when musical instruments, pens, paint brushes and books are cleaned and placed on an altar. These are devoutly worshipped as being the abode of the goddess. In the absence of an image, sometimes an ink pot or flowers are placed on a book and prayers from the scriptures are chanted.

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