In Gujarat, Deepavali Puja is also known as Sharda Puja and Chopda Puja. Sharda Puja is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, who is revered as the Hindu goddess of knowledge, wisdom and learning. Sharda is one of the several names of Goddess Saraswati.
During Diwali Puja, Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, is worshipped as the prime deity. At the same time, Goddess Sharda and Lord Ganesha are also given equal importance. It is the traditional custom to worship all three deities during Diwali Puja. In the images available in the market, such as wall posters, calendars, and clay statues for Diwali Puja, all these three deities are depicted together.
As per Hinduism, there is a strong belief that wealth without wisdom and knowledge will not sustain. One can become rich and prosperous with the blessing and gratitude of Goddess Lakshmi. However, one needs the blessings of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Sharda also, who confer the devotee with wisdom and knowledge respectively, without which the wealth and prosperity cannot continue. In other words, to sustain wealth and prosperity, wisdom is essential; and to develop the wealth, knowledge is must. That is the reason why Hindu families worship Goddess Saraswati, God Ganesha, and Goddess Lakshmi during Diwali Puja.
For students, Sharda Puja is more significant. Students offer special prayers to Goddess Sharda to seek blessings and for success in their studies.
Other than students, Sharda Puja is also significant for business people who maintain their account books. In Gujarat, traditional account books are known as Chopda. During Sharda Puja, they open new account books in front of Maa Sharda, Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha. It is a strong belief that any business needs blessing of all three deities for growth, success and profitability.
Hence, Sharda Puja is an essential part of Diwali Puja, which is often interchangeably used with Chopda Pujan and Diwali Pujan, particularly in the state of Gujarat.
Saraswati is Also Known as Sharada:
Adi Shankaracharya, the greatest seer of India and founder of modern Hinduism and author of the Vedanta philosophy called Saraswati Mata “Sharada” and built temples. The seer calls it the “root” of speech, the storehouse of logic and the power to discern between good and evil.
The legend of how the name “Sharada” became interesting. It is said that in the early years of this millennium the superiority in the realization of knowledge was determined by philosophical debates about the theories of the permanence of Being and the impulse of life or existence. Shankara has traveled the length and breadth of India propagating his theory Adwaita that the Self or Divinity is present in every expression of life. One of the scholars with whom he had a debate was Mandana Mishra, a famous scholar. When Mishra was defeated, his wife “Sharada”, an erudite equally erudite and considered a manifestation of the goddess Saraswati herself, questioned Shankara to a debate, as long as anyone who has lost a follower of the winner forever.
As expected, “Sharada” lost and decided to follow Shankara in his wanderings. Shankara was single sanyasi and could not take a woman with him everywhere. And he did not know how to leave her behind. So when he reached the banks of the Tunga River at Sringeri in Karnataka, he asked her to wait on the shore while swimming to find a suitable place to build his ashram. The legend says that Shankara crossed the Tunga River and never returned. “Sharada” has always been waiting on the other side of the river since. Shankara then built the Sharada Peeth – the original – in Sringeri on the banks of the Tunga River and which is the most famous and visited temple of Saraswati Devi by devotees in India.