Vat Savitri Vrat is an important ritual observed by the married women in all over the northern and western India solely for the well being of their husband and children.
This traditional festival is mostly celebrated in the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, and Bihar amongst others.
This vrat is based on the fight of the legendary Savitri in trying t win the life of her dead husband Satyavan back from the hands of the death God Yama. This beautiful legend is mentioned in the epic saga of Mahabharata.
When is the Vat Savitri Vrat observed?
There are two views about the date of this auspicious vrat or ritual. According to the Skand Purana or the Bhavishyottar Purana, the Vat Savitri Vrat is performed on every purnima of the shukla paksha of the month of Jyestha according to traditional Hindu calendar. According to Gregorian calendar, it is observed on the full moon in the waxing phase of the moon in the month of June. According to the Nirnayamrit, this vrat is performed in the amavashya in the month of Jyestha according to traditional Hindu calendar, or in the dark phase of moon in June according to Gregorian calendar. In 2017, this ritual will be observed on May 25th, Thursday.
Vat savitri vrat is actually (as per traditions) should be observed for 3 days, and the fast is broken on the fourth day. However in recent times, the vrat is observed on the Purnima day only.
What does the name Vat Savitri Vrat signify?
In this vrat women tie a thread around a Banyan or a Vat tree, thus the name Vat Savitri Vrat.
What is the legend behind this Vrat?
The Vrat is derived from the life of the legendary savitri and Satyavan. Savitri, a Princess married Satyavan, knowing he did not have a long time to live. While sitting under The Vat tree one day, with his head on Savitri’s lap; Satyavan passed away. The messenger from the God of Death, Yama came to take him away, but Savitri refused. After numerous failed efforts, finally Yama himself came and asked Savitri to release Satyavan’s body against 3 boons. Savitri agreed and asked for the well beings of her in-laws. The boon was granted. She then asked for her parents well beings. Which again was granted. For the last boon, she asked for a son. Yama, granted that as well. But Savitri pointed out that she cannot have a son without a husband, thus Satyavan will need to be brought back from the land of the deads. Lord Yama was impressed and gave back Satyavan’s life thus in remembrance of this occasion, women keep a fast for their husbands and their safety.
How is the Vat Savitri Vrat observed?
Vat Savitri Vrat is a 3 day fasting vrat, which begins from Trayodashi or 3 days before the full moon. if bearing a fast for 3 days becomes difficult, then one can have a meal in an entire day. On the Trayodashi day women apply a paste of Amla or Indian Gooseberry and Gingli or Sesanum and then takea ritual bath. After this the women eat the roots of the Vata Vriksha or the roots of the Banyan Tree with water. Some women only sustain on this for 3 days.
On the Purnima or the Amavasya day, the devotee should go near the Banyan tree and carry a vessel which has decorations done with 7 types of cereals and covered with 2 piece of cloth. Then in another vessel the idol of Savitri should be placed along with dhoop or incense stick, flowers, lamps etc and worship should be done. Then the devotees tie a red or yellow colored thread around the trunk of the Banyan or Vat tree praying for the well being of your husband and family and also seek blessings for their prosperity. A Parikrama or round of the Vat tree is also done. Red powder or kumkum is also sprinkle on the trunks of the Vat tree. At home, the painting of a Vat or Banyan is done with sandalwood or turmeric and then that is worshipped for 3 days, also as Prasad various dishes are prepared. This fast for 3 days is broken on the fourth day after prayers to Savitri and water to Moon has been offered. Devotees also listen to the Savitri=Satyavan vrat katha. There is many who believe that charity during this vrat is auspicious and thus do some charitable work. Birds and cows should also be fed on this day.
The Vat tree is a symbolic representation of the triumvirate or the trimurtis – Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara or Shiva. The root of the tree is Shiva, the trunk is Vishnu and the upper portion of the tree is considered to be Shiva. The whole tree is also believed to be taken as Savitri. Thus sitting under the tree and listening to the vrat katha or tales of Savitri is extremely auspicious and said to bless the devotee.