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Saraswati puja

Make the most of Saraswati Puja: The (un)official Valentine’s Day for Bengalis

Here’s how to celebrate the day and love stories with a traditional touch that make romance all the more interesting

Pooja Mitra | Published 26.01.23, 03:53 PM
Youngsters having fun on Saraswati Puja

Youngsters having fun on Saraswati Puja


If there is one festival in Bengal that actually matches Valentine’s Day in celebrating love, it’s Saraswati Puja. It has a different charm altogether — the heart feels lighter, the air smells nicer, anxiety levels go down and social media goes viral with pictures of cute little ones and the young (and not so young) dressed in their yellow best.

While Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge, education and arts, and students primarily pray to her for academic success, it is also one day when actual studies take a back seat. The day is not only about traditional (read basanti) dress code, khichudi — and at some homes jora ilish — but also attempts to catch the attention of the prospective bae.


Here are a few pointers on how to celebrate Saraswati Puja and more…

‘Chokhe chokhe kotha bolo’

Be it at school, college or office, no matter where you are, whether your network follows you or not, if you have a prospective bae who has set your adrenaline rushing, drop those subtle hints today. Enough of dilly dallying. It’s time to put Bangalir prem dibas to good use.

The ‘basanti’ OOTD

Wearing a basanti sari for the first time and checking ‘him’ out while struggling to manage your sari pleats, has its own charm. For the boy squad, wearing a panjabi equals hotness on this day.

The ‘komor bendhe nemechhi’ mode

Turning host or hostess to attract the prospective bae’s eyes at a puja pandal/school-college feast/office potluck is a skill that surfaces only as and when required. A small, humble and puppy-eyed note to the folks at home (read Gabbar and Mother India) — this skill cannot be performed under adult supervision and at home on a regular basis.

Who said so much yellow is too much yellow?

Colour-coordinating takes a back seat ’cause everything is yellow, but that should not stop us from micromanaging the design! After all, going all the way when it comes to twinning is among the top three rules of the Saraswati Puja stylebook.

Swipe right to reach the correct pandal

Pandal-hopping is important, especially when a special someone has been swiped right already. The romance of secretly meeting (because it’s too soon to share even with the bestie), the ‘accidental’ touch of fingers, having phuchka and aimlessly roaming around, basking in the soft wintery warmth — whether you are 13 or 31, this never gets old.

The Bong Connection and OG V-Day — when love gets real…

Saraswati Puja means saving pocket money to buy a basanti panjabi for the boyfriend. And when the man in question wears that and you manage to twin (sari chosen by the man) and stroll around a little — the love story is complete!

Prajna Bandyopadhyay and Soutik Ray, and (right) Rinku Mitra and Atanu Kumar Mitra

Prajna Bandyopadhyay and Soutik Ray, and (right) Rinku Mitra and Atanu Kumar Mitra

Saraswati Puja also means fun memories. Prajna Bandyopadhyay and Soutik Ray, who have been dating since high school and are now working professionals in their early 20s, remember being checked out by another couple. “Soutik was wearing a panjabi and carrying a guitar, and was looking very hot. We laughed at the hilarious encounter."

Rinku Mitra and Atanu Kumar Mitra, 58- and 61-year-old — married for almost 35 years now — remember going on their first day trip together to Bankura’s Bishnupur on Saraswati Puja in 1988. “We had a grand feast at a local hotel. I wore flowers in my hair, we offered anjali together and I wore his first gift to me — a chiffon sari, bought in '87 and worn on Saraswati Puja of ‘88” said a nostalgic Rinku.

The common, uncommon and Darwinism on Saraswati Puja

If you are wondering what Darwin has got to do with Saraswati Puja and prem, well, — evolution. Change is the only constant and that loosely translates into people, situation and experiences around Saraswati Puja will also evolve. But, there are a few strings that keep all the generations together, especially when it comes to this day. For example, the love in the air was then, is now and hopefully will remain forever. 

Back in the time when cafe meant Coffee House and date meant sitting side by side at College Square, going out on Saraswati Puja, missing a heartbeat on suddenly realising ‘oh, I really like him/her’ has been as constant as the northern star.

So, to love, Saraswati Puja aka Bangalir Valentine’s Day, the many new memories to come, and to safely tuck the old ones, here’s a toast.

Signing off with the new-age must-listen basanta anthem…

Last updated on 26.01.23, 03:53 PM

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