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Welcome break from studies on Saraswati puja
- Students celebrate with much fanfare during festival that marks advent of spring
Fun and prayers on campus at Ramadevi Women’s College; students celebrate the puja at RD Women’s College hostel and the puja at the sociology department of Utkal University. Pictures by Sanjib Mukherjee

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 8: Educational institutions across the city wore a festive look on the occasion of Saraswati puja and students welcomed the break from humdrum routine.

Also known as Basant Panchami, the day holds immense significance for students, who worship Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, for academic excellence and success.

Preparations for the puja had begun yesterday afternoon with students from various educational institutions collecting the idol of the goddess from the market, along with other puja items, festoons, lights and other decorations. The place where the idol was placed was decorated with colourful rangoli motifs and flower petals.

This morning, all dressed up in new clothes, students flocked to their schools and colleges to pay their respects to the goddess. The puja was also observed at various coaching institutes where teachers and students in large numbers took part in the festivities. They placed their books and pens before the idol and prayed for better marks.

The aarti and prasad distribution was followed by a vegetarian lunch. The students later dispersed to spend the rest of the day with family and friends. Some went pandal hopping.

“It is a very important day for students; students of all departments in the university have been busy organising the festival. What makes it even more special is the fact that we get relief from studies today,” said Nupur Pattanaik, a sociology student at Utkal University.

Saraswati puja is also the day little ones write their first words. It is believed that children who are initiated into the world of education on this auspicious day develop a creative bent of mind.

“When I was small, our parents used to put a chalk in my hands and make me write Oriya alphabets on a slate. I am doing the same thing with my two-year-old son today. The only difference is that I am making him use pen and paper,” said Geetanjali Nanda, a homemaker.

The puja, which marks the onset of spring, falls in the Oriya month of Maagha. Young Bengali girls residing in the city wore traditional yellow saris and offered prayers to the goddess.

“From what I have heard from my grandmother, Basant Panchami is the festival of love. On this day, a girl wears a sari for the first time, that too a yellow one which signifies spirituality and the advent of spring,” said Sujata Biswas, a commerce student.

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