Saraswati, wife of Brahma, is the goddess of speech, learning and knowledge. As the creator’s wife, she is the mother of all creations. Those who pursue music, learning and knowledge hold her in reverence, seeking her blessings and guidance.
Saraswati literally means one that flows. The reference is to the river that has now vanished. It finds mention in the rig-veda, which refers to the saraswati as mighty river with creative, purifying and nourishing qualities. As a river, Saraswati was symbolic of the fertility of the land, and purification.
Saraswati receives great reverence from all artistes and musicians. Being the very manifestation of rhythm, tone and melody, she is remembered through the seven notes- sa, re, ga, ma, pa, tha, ni. She is known as saraswati for her gift of the seven musical notes. Also known as Svaratmika- the soul of music – she plays the Veena, the Indian lute, whose playing instills stability in the mind and body and sends waves of soothing rhythms throughout the body. The tranquility of music is focused in the Veena.
Fair and charming, Saraswati is dressed in white, symbolic of purity and light. She does not wear much gold or jewellery because she prefers simplicity and austerity. She has four arms. She holds a book in one of the right hands and a rosary or lotus in one of the right hands. She holds a Veena in the other two hands and is shown sitting on a white lotus, a symbol of purity, modesty, and morality. It motivates one to lead a life of detachment. The rosary is symbolic of prayer and austerity. An embodiment of virtuous intellect, book in hand, she motivates one to acquire knowledge and wisdom. Since learning and intellect are incomplete without the first arts, she plays the Veena to motivate one to seek inner peace and bliss from which these things originate.
Saraswati is worshipped not only in temples and homes, but also in places of learning. It is customary to have an idol or photograph of Saraswati in the institution, and to offer prayers to her. In many schools, children sing hymns dedicated to Saraswati every morning before going to classes. Saraswati occupies a special position in schools where music and fine arts are taught. It is also customary to offer prayers to Saraswati before singing and music performances.
Every year in the hindu month Magh when Basant Panchmi is celebrated, it is customary to offer Saraswati special prayers.