Smart prayers. Devotees offer butter lamp to celebrate the Shreepanchami festival at Saraswati temple. Photo: Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar

Two recent festivals in Nepal saw Hindu devotees flock to temples and the Triveni River in Kathmandu – the Shreepanchami and the month-long Swasthani Bratakatha.

The Shreepanchami is one of the most important festivals in Nepal alongside Basanta Panchami or Vasant Panchami – the day when winter ends and spring starts, which falls in January-February.

During the Shreepanchami festival, Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge, is worshipped as the source of all intelligence and creativity. She is considered the creator of art, music, science and all education. Her blessings are the source of innovation and knowledge.

Thus children are given their first writing and reading lessons at the Saraswati temple during this festival in the belief that the goddess will help them excel in education.

Every year, the month-long Swasthani Bratakatha sees Hindus taking holy baths, telling folk tales and fasting for peace, prosperity or a husband.

This festival is dedicated to the God Madhavnarayan and Goddess Swasthani. Devotees often share folk tales about miraculous feats performed by these gods in many Hindu households.

The holy bath is usually taken on the first day of the festival.