Saraswati is a Goddess known for knowledge, learning, and purity. Many stories differ from where she emerged, either from Brahma’s mouth or head. She appears in the Rig Veda, the oldest of the four Vedas (dating to at minimum 3000 years ago and possibly much earlier).
Saraswati is considered to be Brahma’s consort and part of the Tridevi, the traditional grouping of the three Goddesses, Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Parvati. She is usually depicted with pure white skin and a white sari and draped with gold jewelry, as she sits upon a glowing pink lotus flower upon a river. The lotus symbolizes light, knowledge and truth. In her hands she holds a celestial veena, showing that she not only embodies knowledge, but also artistic abilities. Her vehicle is a pure white swan, reinforcing the notion of her purity.
Before the universe was created there needed to be order and direction for Brahma to devise such a creation. This is when Saraswati emerged from Brahma to create order and direction.
Saraswati Puja, also known as Vasant Panchami, held on the first day of Spring in the lunar calendar, and Navratri, the nine day festival celebrating the major gods and goddesses in Hindu culture, are the two primary festivals during which Saraswati is honored. During this puja, a photo or murti of the Goddess is decorated with flowers and garlands and She is offered fruits and prasad (sanctified food or sweets prepared for the gods). This puja is conducted to increase the well-being and knowledge of the family.
Saraswati Vandana Mantra (first part)
या कुन्देन्दुतुषारहारधवला या शुभ्रवस्त्रावृता
या वीणावरदण्डमण्डितकरा या श्वेतपद्मासना
या ब्रह्माच्युतशंकरप्रभृतिभिर्देवैः सदा पूजिता
सा मां पातु सरस्वति भगवती निःशेषजाड्यापहा
Yā Viṇā-Vara-Ḍanda-Manḍita-Karā Yā Śveta-Paḍmāsanā |
Yā Brahmācyuta-Śankara-Prabhutibhir-Ḍevaih Saḍā Pujitā
Sā Mām Pātu Sarasvati Bhagavati Niśeśa-Jādyāpahā
"May Goddess Saraswati, who is fair like the jasmine-colored moon, and whose pure white garland is like frosty dew drops; who is adorned in radiant white attire, on whose beautiful arm rests the veena, and whose throne is a white lotus; who is surrounded and respected by the gods, protect me. May you fully remove my lethargy, sluggishness and ignorance."