It was around 7 in the morning and Ruhani was already in her study table, doing her home task when her mother came with her breakfast. “ Today I will take a test for your Maths and History … and I will give you another hour to prepare”. Ruhani was in the 4th standard in the school and there is hardly a week left for the final exam. Ruhani gave a very blank look at her mother to the suggestion. Her mother was quite confused … then she suddenly realised it was a Saraswati Puja day ! She added “ well, once you finished the test you may go around with your Grandpa for the Puja visits”. Ruhani looked visitbly relieved and happy and quickly finished her breakfast. She finished her test in a record time !
￼Around 10 a.m. she reached the next block and started her Saraswati Puja visits in her para (locality). This is the day when the small girls allowed to wear sarees, preferatbly of yellow shades. Ruhani wore her mother’s saree which was too long to manage, but she was managing bravely. Her mother warned “you already broke your left hand, and do not break the other, take care” ! There were too many Saraswati Pujas organised in the area by various groups. Each decorated their festival space with various creative structures.
Saraswati Puja is a short lived festival, there is anjali (placing flower-offerings) performed by a purohit (brahmin priest). Purohit is the most sought after person for the day. There are too many Saraswati Puja organised in an area than a priest can manage, therefore the organisers would literary compete with each other to catch hold of a priest. The students of all ages will place their books at the feet of the Goddess of Learning and pray for the success of their educational pursuits.
After the morning worship there will be prasad (various fruits and sweets) distributed to all. “Khichuri” (rice, lentils, vegetables boiled together with special spices) is generally the Bhog distributed to all. Besides pujas held at the various localities, most of the schools hold their own Saraswati Puja and all attending students are given Khichuri bhog”.
Saraswati Puja ends the very next day, with the distribution of Dodhi Korma – a prosad made with beaten rice, curd, sugar and sweets. Thereafter the Saraswati idol is taken to the River Ganges for immersion.