‘Vat Purnima Vrat’ is one of the most important festivals celebrated by married women across India on the Purnima
day of the Jyeshtha
month of the Hindu lunar calendar. This year, this festival is to fall on 8th
June 2017. This day is based on a legend of Savitri and Satyavan in the age of Mahabharata. As per the legend, Savitri tricked Lord Yamraj, the lord of death, and compelled him to return the life of her husband Satyavan. This is why married women across the country observe the Vat Purnima Vrat for the well-being and long life of their husband.
The legend behind the Vat Purnima Vrat
During the times of Mahabharata, there was a princess named Savitri who had chosen a prince named Satyavan as her husband, even after knowing from Narad Muni that Satyavan would not live for more than one year from that day onwards. One fine day, Satyavan was resting on Savitri’s lap under a banyan tree, when he passed away. When Lord Yamraj came to take Satyavan’s soul along with him, Savitri refused to part with her husband. As Yamraj carried her husband’s soul with him, Savitri followed him and started offering him praise. Yamraj, impressed by the content and style of her words, granted her any boon, with the condition that she would not ask for the life of Satyavan. Making a smart decision, Savitri first asked for the eyesight and restoration of the kingdom of her blind father-in-law. Secondly, she asked for children for her father. And third, she said that she would love to have children. Yamraj, without giving the boons enough thought, granted all of them. Ultimately, to grant her third boon, Yamraj had to grant the life of Satyavan. This way, Savitri very intelligently brought back the life of Satyavan, after which Yamraj blessed her life with eternal happiness.
Celebrating the Vat Purnima Vrat
To pray for the long life of their husband, just like Savitri did, married Indian women fast and pay offerings to the Banyan tree. They dress up in beautiful red sarees
, wear dazzling ornaments, and approach the Banyan tree with Puja thaalis
. After sprinkling kumkum
on the trunk, offering flowers, rice, and water, and lighting a diya
, they tie a cotton thread on the trunk, and circle around the tree with the thread seven times. They then join their hands and pray to the tree for the long life and well-being of their husband.
Why only the Banyan tree?
The Banyan tree in Hinduism is a symbolic depiction of the three superior lords – Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh (Shiva). The root of the tree is considered to be Lord Brahma, the stem is believed to be Lord Vishnu, and the upper portion is regarded as Lord Shiva. It is believed that offering prayers to this tree on the Purnimaof the Jyeshtha month of the Hindu calendar grants long life to the husband and prosperity to the entire family. Although the tree does not play a significant role in the story of Savitri mentioned above, it is worshipped in the memory that the entire legendary story happened under the Banyan tree. Also, the fact that the Banyan tree has a long life adds great significance to this entire story.