On the ocassion of Saraswati Puja today, households and educational institutions in West Bengal saw a subdued celebration of the festival, in strict adherence to Covid norms. University and college students turned up in large numbers to offer ‘pushpanjali’ to the goddess of learning, Saraswati. There was some respite for devotees in Bengal as weather conditions improved in the morning after incessant rain on the previous day.
Students were overjoyed as Saraswati Puja was celebrated in many schools after two years. Many educational institutions, where the festival was celebrated with participants wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, had reopened a couple of days back. Children offered prayers to the goddess of learning at household and community pujas in Kolkata and other parts of the state, reported news agency PTI.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also extended greetings on the ocassion of Saraswati Puja and Basant Panchmi earlier today. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee greeted people on the occasion, tweeting in Bengali, “Goddess Saraswati, give us knowledge, impart a cultured way of thinking among us, light up our minds with the flame of Spring. Happy Saraswati Puja on Basant Panchami to everyone.”
The festival also brought smiles to the faces of clay-modellers of Kumartuli as many of them made decent sales.
“This year was better than the last one. All 100 idols in my workshop have been sold out. There were many last-minute bookings since February 1 after celebration of the festival was confirmed in schools, as a result of which many of these institutions had to make do with smaller idols meant for households,” artisan Jiten Pal told PTI.
While some areas saw subdued celebrations, flower markets in Kolkata saw huge crowds.
Meanwhile, idol makers feel that owing to the restrained arrangements customers tend to purchase low-budget idols. One of the noted idol makers of Tripura, an office-bearer of All Tripura Clay Artisan Association, Uttam Chakraborty told news agency ANI, “We have prepared adequate numbers of idols but comparatively footfalls of customers are less. Barring a few parties, nobody showed up to order or buy idols for the Puja slated to be held on next Saturday.”
Earlier this month, West Bengal Heritage Commission declared the 198-year-old Sanskrit College and University as a Heritage Structure. Sanskrit College was established in 1824. This achievement is reflected in the Saraswati Puja celebrations in Sanskrit College and University.
(With inputs from PTI, ANI)