Saraswati Puja and Vijayadashami Celebrations- South India

Saraswati Puja is an important part of the Navaratri festival, especially in South India. Saraswati Puja is observed at different times in different parts of India. The last three days of Navratri is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. Saraswati Puja is also observed in Gujarat during the same period but in a different manner. Below is a step by step guide to how Saraswathi Puja is observed in South India.

 In Karnataka, Saraswathi Puja is observed on the Saptami (Oct 10, 2013). The last day of Navratri, which is also the Mahanavami day, is  also observed as Ayudha Puja and Saraswati Puja. Books and tools are placed in the puja room or in front of the idol or painting of Goddess Saraswati on the previous day evening. The books and tools are not touched untill the Mahanavami day and they are removed from the pooja on the Vijayadashami day. On Vijayadashami, you can open the books are read a few pages – this is the day of Vidya Arambha.
Vijaya Dashami day is considered auspicious for initiating the children into writing and reading, which is called Vidyarambham. Tens of thousands of children are initiated into the world of letters on this day in Kerala.

Requirements

  • Image or idol of Goddess Saraswati
  • A white cloth (vastram)
  • Flowers – louts, lilies or jasmine.
  • Mango leaves or other decorations
  • Turmeric
  • Kumkum
  • Rice
  • Bananas
  • Locally available Fruits
If you are preparing prasada or neivedya – then the ingredients of what you wish to cook. Usually, people make Vade, Payasam using split peas or green gram or simple jaggery sweet.

Getting Ready

  • If you are already doing Navratri Puja, then you can use the same decorations etc.
  • If you are only doing Saraswati Puja, then get your house cleaned.
  • Keep all the books arranged.
  • Clean all the tools.
  • Keep the computer and laptop clean.
  • Everything must be ready by the evening of the 8th day of Navratri.
On the Saptami day (or Mahanavami for some, ninth day of Navratri), books and tools that are kept for Saraswati puja should not be touched.

Saraswati Puja

Most people do the Puja on evening of the eighth day of Navratri and on the Mahanavami day the books and tools are not touched.
  • If you are already doing Navratri Puja, then you can place the idol of Goddess Saraswati in front of your Navratri Bombe display. If not, then you can place the idol in prominence in the puja area.
  • Decorate the image or idol of Goddess Saraswati using flowers, garlands etc.
  • A white cloth is used to cover the idol of the Goddess. If you are using an image you can skip the white cloth or place it on tray near the image.
  • Pray to Lord Ganesha first by chanting a simple prayer.
  • You can light the lamp.
  • Next venerate Goddess Saraswati with flowers, agarbhatis, incense and chanting any shloka dedicated to Goddess.
  • Now that you have invoked the Goddess, you can keep books and other objects that you wish to keep for puja before the idol.
  • Sprinkle some flowers on the books and objects.
  • You can also apply a small dot of turmeric paste and kumkuma on books and objects; but turmeric stains are hard to remove so do it carefully.
  • After this you can place some flowers and akshata (uncooked rice with turmeric) on the deity.
  • You can offer the prasada or neivedya that you have made.
  • You can chant any shlokas or remain in meditation for sometime.
Some people do Saraswati Daana (offering/blessing) to a young girl on the day which includes dress material, betel leaves, betel nuts, bananas, bangles and cosmetics.
The books and tools are removed on the Vijaya Dasami day after prayers and lighting a lamp.

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