Vata Savitri vrata is a ritual practice performed by wives while praying for the well being and long life of their husband. This is a fasting day for married women. According to the Hindu calendar, this festival falls on the day of purnima, 15th day of the month in the month of Jyeshtha, third month of the year.
Story behind vrat
The vrata has been named after Satyawaan Savitri. There is a mythological story about her. The story went to about 500 years back. Savitri was the daughter of king Aswapati of Madra Desa, region between Northeast India and Nepal, and was very beautiful. She married Satyawaan, a prince in exile who was living in the forest with his father Dyumatsen who was blind, and mother. He was known for his truthful virtues and generosity. At a point of time, he lost his kingdom and went to forest. As a devoted wife, Savitri followed his way, left the palace and lived with her husband and father-in-law in the forest, and took all pains to take care of them.
One day, prior to her marriage, Narada, the revered sage of the gods and goddesses, came to her house, and predicted that Satyawaan’s life would end in a year. But, love struck Savitri defends Satyawaan and insists on marrying him. They get married and lived happily for 11 months and 29 days. She was tense as the day of Satyawaan’s death came nearer. She started prayer, and worship of her beloved god. She accompanied Satyawaan on that day, and went to forest for woodcutting. After sometime while wood cutting, Satyawaan got tired and lies down
with his head on Savitri’s lap. Soon after few minutes, Yamaraja, the death god appeared to take away the soul of Satyawaan from his body. Savitri, protested, and pleaded Yamaraja not to be separated from her husband. But, death god did not heed her request, and take away the soul of her husband. She followed Yamaraja until his end journey.
Yamaraja pleased with her devotion, asked her for three boons, anything except for the life of Satyawaan. As a first boon, Savitri asked that the eyesight of her father-in-law be restored, and was granted by Yamaraja. Secondly, she asked for her father-in-law’s kingdom is restored back to him. That’s also granted by him. As a third boon, she asked for Satyawaan’s children. Yamaraja granted that also without thinking much. Savitri shot back saying that how she can have children if Satyawaan dies. Yamaraja relents and sets Satyawaan’s soul free. Ultimately, she succeeded to return back with the life of her husband. Satyawaan came to life again and thereafter both of them lived happily.
Mode of celebration
Since then, Hindu women observe this festival for propitiate Savitri, who is considered as a Devi (goddess). On that day, women wake up at early morning, and take purificatory bath. Wear new clothes, bangles and apply vermilion on the fore head. They perform pooja while chanting mantras, and offer wet pulses, rice, mango, lemon, jack fruit, banana and other fruits. Clothes, bangles and other valuable articles would be given in charity in a bamboo basket to the
Brahmin’s. They feed water to the Banyan tree, sprinkle kumkum (red powder) on it, wrapped the cotton threads around the tree’s trunks and then go seven to twelve times round while doing parikrama. Some of them observe the fast on whole day, and worship their respective husbands while praying for “mangalya bhagya’.
In India, it is widely celebrated by Hindu women, and the mode of celebration may be slightly different from place to place. In southern states like Tamil Nadu, this festival is called in the name of Karadaiyan Nonbu.
In some places it is observed in three days. Fasting begins on the trayodashi, 13th day of the month, and ends on Purnima. Some sections of Hindu society observe the vrat during Amavasya, 30th day of the Hindu month, and some others during Purnima. Adding, pregnant women, ailing women, working women, and women just delivered a baby may skip this fasting and while just concentrating on prayers.