Kolkata: The onset of spring, with blooming flowers and vast fields of ripened mustard, brings with it the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music and culture. Heralding the arrival of Basant Panchami, the City of Joy celebrated the occasion of Saraswati Puja on Saturday with traditional pomp and gaiety.Decked up in bright hues of yellow saris, women and girls offered their prayers to Goddess Saraswati with flowers, while men chose to follow the age-old tradition and clad themselves in traditional white kurtas. Clay idols of the Hindu goddess with a veena in one hand, a crescent moon on the brow and a swan at her pedestal, were seen with flowers, fruits and sweets placed as offerings in front of her. Also Read – Bose & Gandhi: More similar than apart, says Sugata BoseThe ritual which is typically performed by priests in different households, clubs, communities, schools, and colleges, continued throughout the day with the ringing sounds of cymbals and conch shells, after which the devotees indulged in distributing ‘prasads’. With the growing popularity of the occasion, small marquees had come up in almost every nook and cranny, where people gathered to worship the goddess, followed by a sumptuous lunch comprising “khichuri” which is a mixture of rice and lentils, accompanied by fried vegetables and dollops of chutney and sweets. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataTo add a cherry on the cake, this year the occasion has become a two-day affair as the ‘tithi’ which started on Saturday will last till Sunday 10 am in the morning. The state government has also declared a holiday on Monday. The day which is considered to be the Valentines’ Day for Bengalis saw couples flocking to different malls, parks and restaurants, on completion of the puja. But for the little ones, it was a day of exulted euphoria who gave their textbooks a miss for a day just before their upcoming examinations, providing them with much-needed respite. On Saraswati Puja, which is also considered to be a “no-study day”, the children participated in cultural functions organised in localities, educational institutes and households.