Saraswathi Puja

  With a Goddess in charge of education, knowledge is guaranteed to those who adhered to the traditions.  The memorable yearly milestone of Saraswathi Puja, or Pujavaippu as we called it, when Goddess Saraswathi, the divine head revered as the one in charge of vidya (knowledge and education) is celebrated and prayed to for nine nights.

  Navarathri culminates in the three essential ones, Ashtami Rohini, Maha Navami and Vijaya Dasami, the Sanskrit counterparts for 8th, 9th and 10th day with the corresponding stars.  Varying in style and details of the celebration, the essential practice is to pray to Goddess Saraswathi, keeping her picture in the pooja room with decorations and educational tools such as books, musical instruments, or classical dancing gadgets and even stethoscopes or similar professional equipment.  Each family had these arrangements. 

  Poojas were done in the homes, and special festivities at the temples.  There would be daily cultural celebrations with music and dance recitals performed by the students learning the arts and by qualified professionals attracting huge gatherings.  Schools remain closed for pooja holidays the most favorite holidays for most of the children, primarily since reading or studying is not allowed for those three final days. There used to be the special Prasadam (Panchaamritham or Thrimadhuram) made during the poojas, with the ingredients being bananas, rock candy, honey, ghee, and raisins.  We were asked to sing bhajans and keerthanas in praise of God, and as we performed, our thoughts would be about the treats that followed the poojas.  The morning of the final day, Vijaya Dasami, the whole family awoke early, bathed, and assembled in front of the alcove where the pooja was displayed.