Shree Panchami, also known as Basanta Panchami or Manju Panchami, is a festival of significant religious importance to Hindus and Buddhists in Nepal. It occurs on the fifth day of the bright fortnight in the month of Magha in the Nepal Sambat calendar.
Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of learning and knowledge, is believed to have been born on this day. Hence, the Shree Panchami day is considered to be very auspicious by students, teachers, artists, craftsmen and professionals for worshipping the goddess and receiving her blessings. On this day, kids in the age group of 5 to 7 years who are beginning their education, are taught their first alphabet by the parents and teachers.
Devotees throng the Saraswati temples located across the country from early in the morning till late in the evening. In the Kathmandu Valley, the Saraswati temples in Lele, Swayambhu and Gairidhara receive the largest number of devotees. As per one popular religious belief, if anyone swallows seven rice grains which are offered to the goddess, they will become knowledgeable and wise.
The day is also considered to be the most auspicious and popular day in the year for marriages, where the couple is blessed by Goddess Saraswati herself.
Buddhists in Nepal celebrate the day as Manju Panchami, honoring Lord Manjushree, the God of Knowledge and Craftsmanship. According to Swayambhu Purana, he had made the Kathmandu Valley a habitable place by draining out water from a lake which encompassed the region.
Nepalis celebrate Basanta Panchami to welcome the arrival of the spring season. In the morning, the official ceremony called ‘Basantasrawon’ is held at the ancient palace complex in Kathmandu in which the Head of State, Prime Minister, ministers and other high-ranking government officials participate. After the rituals, priests announce the commencement of the spring season and offer the season’s blessings to all the participants.