Basant Panchami – Dedicated to Lovers – Long Before Valentine's Day Was Born



Basant Panchami heralds the arrival of spring season after the harsh winter and it used to be the celebration of love and friendship in Hindu tradition. Basant Panchami to Holi was the season of love – dedicated to lovers. Even today for many Hindu communities, Basant Panchami is an occasion for worshipping the Hindu God of Love, Kamadeva, and his companion Rati along with goddess Saraswati — the deity of knowledge.

Basant ritu (spring) finds a mention in renowned Sanskrit poet Kalidasa's romantic play — Abhijnanasakuntalam — and poems like Ritusamhara. Other literary works — like Banabhatta's Kadambari and Harshacharita that were written in the 7th century AD — address the subject of spring as a season of love in an exquisite manner. Sri Krishna is believed to have played Holi during this season - all fun and frolicking of Sri Krishna happened during this period.

Professor of Sanskrit at PU Shankarji Jha says, "Spring, which brings vitality and vigour, is undoubtedly the season of love. In ancient times, it was the occasion when lovers prayed for a fruitful life of togetherness. Even now, people in Varanasi and parts of West Bengal and Orissa worship the Hindu deities of love on the occasion. Basant Panchami is also considered an auspicious time for weddings and starting new ventures." (Source Timesof India article on Basant Panchami)

But we do not get to hear the noises that are made during Valentine's Day on Basant Panchami.

Sanatana Dharma (Hindu tradition) need not borrow a day (Valentine's Day) from an alien culture to promote love but sadly this is what is happening now during the first two weeks of February.

Sanatana Dharma has dedicated an entire season to lovers - Basant Panchami to Holi - and this is closely associated with nature – when everything is fresh and new after the winter – when there is hope all around, with blooming flowers, fresh leaves, songs of the returning birds…