Students welcome new season with Hindu festival

Thirty students gathered at Coffman Union to take part in this traditional festival.

Hayley Odom

Brave souls from the Hindu Student Society endured Saturday’s frigid temperatures to gather in room 303 of Coffman Union and welcome the start of a new season through the Hindu festival of Basant Panchami on the day of Saraswati Puja.

The Basant Panchami festival proclaims the arrival of spring. The day of Saraswati Puja falls on the fifth day of the lunar month of Magh.

The day, which was Jan. 26, recognizes the importance of Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and learning.

Thirty students and community members celebrated the event and prayed barefoot for knowledge and wisdom. Participants brought offerings of coconuts, bananas, traditional Indian food, books and yellow flower petals to Saraswati’s altar.

“Saraswati is an important goddess, especially to students who worship her to help with learning,” said Sajeet Haridas, a graduate student in the department of plant biology and president of the Hindu Student Society.

“We enjoy bringing these types of events to the University to carry on our traditions. Religion is a personal thing, but it brings people together,” Haridas said.

The Hindu Student Society formed last fall to preserve and promote Hindu Dharma and its culture.

“The University of Minnesota is a big campus with many Hindus, but there wasn’t any organization to celebrate our culture, so we started this group,” said Dasharath Lohar, the group’s adviser and a research associate in the department of plant biology.

The event drew students curious about the society who wanted to participate in the event.

Deepanwita Dasgupta, a philosophy graduate student, said the organization is a link for her to stay in touch with people and get feedback on issues relevant to her culture.

The event, led by a Hindu priest, involved prayer, meditation, chanting and singing set to the background of traditional drums.