A very popular festival here in Bengal among the youngsters is the Saraswati Puja. Goddess Saraswati is represented as a graceful woman in white, a symbol of purity and peace. She is the Goddess who signifies knowledge, learning, arts and culture. She is seen as the serene Goddess wearing a crescent moon on her brow riding a swan and seated on a lotus flower. Saraswati Puja is performed to pay allegiance to the Goddess of learning. The festival is celebrated every year on the fifth day of the bright fortnight of February (magha) on the day called 'Basant Panchami'. The most significant aspect of this day is that children are taught reading and writing their first words on this day as it is considered an auspicious day to begin a child's education. Educational institutions organize special prayers for Saraswati on this day.
Adults also participate in this festival, though with a lesser zeal for better professional improvement and getting better opportunities in the workplace. There are various rituals that are followed in the worshipping of goddess Saraswati. Families gather together before the idol of Saraswati and pray for the blessing of knowledge. Flowers and wild berries are offered to the goddess and students place their books before the deity and do not do any reading or writing that day. An elaborate puja, with sandalwood, ghee, joss sticks, and incense is done to the sound of shlokas, conch shells, and drums. On this day, people eat vegetarian food and initiate children into the world of the written word.