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    What is Saraswati day all about?

    The holy day of Saraswati is named after the Hindu goddess of knowledge, learning and wisdom, Dewi Saraswati. Hindu philosophers view wisdom as something beautiful and attractive, therefore feminine.

    In iconographic form, Saraswati is depicted as a radiantly beautiful woman wearing a crown and a sari who sits on a lotus flower, accompanied by a swan and a peacock. In Her four (sometimes depicted as two) arms She holds items symbolic of the values of knowledge and learning, including lontar (palm-leaf scriptures), rosary beads and a lute (veena). In the Balinese version, however, Saraswati is often seen standing, wearing a Balinese dance costume, and Her Indian lute has been replaced with an Indonesian spiked fiddle (rebab).

    On this day, which always falls on a Saturday every six Balinese calendar months, Hindus across Bali make special offerings to lontar, books and learning materials (not including computers, oddly enough-these are blessed on the day for things made of iron called Tumpek Landep). Devotees are not supposed to read or study on Saraswati day.

    Saraswati is naturally an important religious day for schools and places of learning. Students are expected to attend school in Balinese traditional dress and pray while all the books and other learning material are blessed by teachers and priests. Even many alumni return to their schools or universities to take part in worship.

    On Saraswati, many worshippers do a sort of temple circuit, praying at different locations. This is particularly popular with young people who like to do this till late at night. After all, it is a Saturday night and it’s a good excuse for friends and couples to spend time together out of the watchful eye of parents. It’s no surprise that beach temples are the most popular destinations for worship.

    The day after Saraswati is called Banyupinaruh. Read about Banyupinaruh.

    © 2010 Vaughan Hatch

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