Vat Purnima vrat, also called as Vat Savitri vrat, is a prominent Hindu celebration observed by married women, dedicated to their love towards their husbands. It is majorly celebrated in North India and the Western Indian states of Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat and Kumaon. It falls on the Purnima (full moon day) of the Jyeshta month of Hindu Calendar. According to the Gregorian calendar, it falls in May or June. Married women observe vrat for their husband on this auspicious day, by tying a thread around a Banyan tree.
Vat Purnima Vrat
‘Vat’ means Banyan tree and Purnima means ‘full moon’. This festival is a special festival for every married Hindu woman, during which she expresses her undying love towards her husband, by observing a fast, praying for her husband’s longevity and good health and tying a thread around a Banyan tree. The three-day festival usually occurs on the 13th, 14th and 15th days of Jyeshta month. In Northern Indian states like Bihar, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, the festival is celebrated on Jyeshta Amavasya, whereas in Western India, it is observed during Jyeshta Purnima. Hence women of North India observe vrat 15 days prior to other states. The rituals of following the vrat are the same across India. Women dress in traditional garments, sometimes in their bridal dress, apply vermilion and observe a fast. They offer water, rice and flowers to the Banyan tree and sprinkle vermilion on it. They circumambulate the Banyan tree 108 times, while tying a cotton thread to its trunk. Women observing this vrat, greet each other with the words ‘Janm Savitri Ho’ meaning, ‘Be born like Savitri’, honouring Savitri’s love and wishing the same love in each other’s life. The vrat is a symbol of love, dedication and loyalty of women towards their husbands, and is observed with the hope of experiencing marital bliss.
ORIGIN AND SIGNIFICANCE:
The legend of Vat Savitri Punam as mentioned in Skanda Purana is related to the iconic role of Savitri in bringing her deceased husband back to life, by pursuing Yamaraj to release her husband from death. Savitri’s husband, Satyavan, died near a Banyan tree. She intelligently pursued Yamaraj to give her the boon of her husband’s long life, and received the boon through her dedication and love for her husband. This day, then became popular as the Vat Savitri vrat and all married women started observing this vrat, wishing for the longevity of their husbands. Since Satyavan’s husband died while climbing a Banyan tree, women celebrate the festival by tying a thread around the Banyan tree and sprinkling vermilion on it.
According to the Puranas, the Banyan tree is known as kalpavriksha, which means, the tree that fulfils all desires. It is symbolic to Trimurti, with the roots representing Brahma, the bark representing Vishnu and the branches representing Shiva. Banyan tree is also associated with the God of Death, Yama, and is usually found in cremation grounds. It also represents Bahupada (the one with several feet), which grows below the soil and forms an additional trunk, representing longevity. The Banyan tree also symbolises immortality or the permanency of the soul. As mentioned in Bhavishyottara Purana and Skanda Purana, observing a vrat on this day and worshiping Banyan tree, is considered the most fruitful way to achieve longevity of life. Hence, married women perform this vrat to achieve the boon of good health and long life of their husbands.
DEITIES ASSOCIATED WITH THE FESTIVAL:
Devotees used to worship the Banyan tree on the occasion of Vat Savitri Purnima. Banyan Tree is symbolic to the trio of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Yamaraj and Narada are also worshipped at some places on this day.
CUSTOMS, TRADITIONS AND RITUALS:
The Vat Savitri Vrat is an age-old tradition followed by Hindu married women, with the intention of achieving blessings of good health and long life for their husbands. It is a simple vrat but is performed with great devotion, as it represents a woman’s love for her husband. During the three days, pictures of Vat (Banyan tree) are drawn on the floor or walls of the house, using sandal and rice paste. The carvings of a couple are placed in a tray of sand and offered Vat leaves. On Purnima day, it is considered auspicious to take a bath with sesame and amla seeds. Women wear heavy traditional attire and adorn themselves with jewellery, displaying their happiness in marriage. They observe vrat from sunrise of Jyeshta Purnima and parana is performed the next day, after sunrise. Some women observe fast for three days, and consume the roots of Banyan tree along with water, during the three-day fast. In case of the unavailability of Banyan trees in vicinity, women make a trunk shaped structure with turmeric and sandalwood paste, and worship the same. Making donations on this day is considered very beneficial and auspicious. It is a tradition to greet women saying ‘Janm Savitri Ho’, blessing them to become as devoted as Savitri, in their marriage.
PUJA VIDHI AND KATHA:
- Take an early morning bath, preferably with sesame seeds and amla.
- Make a vow to observe the vrat meticulously. Vrat is observed either for three days, or for one day on the Purnima day.
- Dress up traditionally and accessorize with jewellery, flowers and makeup.
- It is important to apply vermilion on this day.
- Place incense, lamp, flower, five types of fruits, yellow-red kalawa, roli, akshat, sixteen makeup items, turmeric, water in copper vessel, vermilion, naivedya, soaked gram and red cloth, in a basket.
- Offer prayers in the house temple, and provide arghya of akshat, water and red flowers to Surya Devata.
- Install the murti of Savitri and Yama under a Banyan tree nearby and offer Gandham (chandan), Pushpam(flowers), deepam(ghee jyoti) and Incense(dhoop).
- Offer Naivedyam which includes, soaked chana, jaggery, batasha and pooris.
- Tie kalava (red-yellow thread) around the Banyan tree, making parikrama 7 times or 108 times.
- Offer coconut, paan and supari.
- Offer makeup items (solah shringar items)
- Listen to vrat katha, holding gram in right hand.
- Conclude the vrat by taking blessings from elders of the family.
- Offer Dakshina to Brahmins.
- Donate to the needy, specifically, married women.
Gram is of special importance in Vat Savitri Purnima as it is said that Savitri had given a new lease of life to Satyvan by putting a gram in his mouth.
The Vat Savitri story dates back to the times of Mahabharata. There was a king named Ashvapati of Madra kingdom. He was blessed with a good wife, wealth, health and prosperity of his kingdom, but was childless for years. He was a devotee of Goddess Savitri and worshiped her with great faith. Eventually, the king and the queen were blessed with a beautiful daughter. Born from the blessings of Goddess Savitri, the newborn was named Savitri. When Savitri grew up and reached the age of marriage, the king organized a Swayamvar and invited the princes of various kingdoms for the same. She chose Satyavan, son of King Dymatsena of Salwa kingdom. Narad Muni informed Ashvapati about Satyavan’s short life but Savitri was adamant to marry him, displaying her belief that she cannot change her choice because of unforeseen incidents, and that her loyalty to Satyavan was established the moment she chose him as her life partner. After marriage Savitri was a very obedient wife and took very good care of her house and family. As the day of the death of her husband arrived, she took a vow of fasting and vigil, three days before the predicted date of death of Satyavan. The last day, she accompanies her husband to the forest. In the forest, while Satyvan tries to split some wood of a Banyan tree, he becomes weak and suddenly takes his last breath. Savitri places his body in the shade of Vat and pursues Yama who arrives to claim Satyavan’s soul. She follows Yama wherever he goes. Pleased by her love, dedication and determination for Satyavan, Yama grants her a boon. She asks for the eyesight of her father-in-law to be restored. She continues following Yama, who then offers her another boon. This time, she asks that her father-in-law get his lost kingdom back. She continues to follow Yama. Yama grants her a third boon, with the exception of Satyavan’s life. To this, she asks for a boon of having 100 children with Satyavan. Her witty manner compelled Yamraj to restore Satyavan’s life. Ultimately when she came down near the Banyan tree, she saw Satyavan alive and healthy. Since then, Savitri vrat is being observed with full dedication, by married women for the longevity of the husband. Since the whole episode took place under the shadow of a Banyan tree, the day is known to us as Vat Savitri vrat.
CELEBRATIONS ACROSS THE COUNTRY:
The traditional festival of Vat Purnima vrat is celebrated in India with much fervour by married Hindu women. It is celebrated in the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Bihar, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh. In western Odisha, it is well known as Savitri Uwaas. Conventional festivals of Amanta and Purnimanta, usually fall on the same day. Northern states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh celebrate this festival on Amavasya while Western states celebrate this day on Purnima.
BENEFITS OF VAT SAVITRI PURNIMA:
- Worshipping the Banyan tree is like worshiping Tridev.
- Banyan tree is known as Kalpavriksha or the tree that fulfils all desires. Worshiping the Banyan tree on this day leads to fulfilment of wishes.
- Married women are blessed with marital bliss
- Married women pray for good health and longevity of their husbands and it is believed that observing this vrat grants this prayer.
- This vrat is also believed to grant the wish of having the same man as a husband, in forthcoming seven lives.
- Unmarried women observe the Vat Savitri Vrat for being blessed with the desired life partner.