The worship of the holy fig tree and Sati Savitri: Vat Savitri Vrat

India is famous for temples and so is the national tree of India that hardly fails to find its place in the Indian temples. Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva are believed to reside in the roots, trunk and the upper portion of this immortal tree respectively. This tree receives a special mention in Bhagavad-gita too, wherein, Lord Krishna says, “Of all trees, I am the holy fig tree...” (excerpt from the 26th sloka of the 10th chapter of Bhagavad-gita) Thus, the holy fig tree, also known as Banyan tree has a special significance and is rightly known as kalpa-vriksha (wish-fulfilling tree).

What is Vat Savitri Vrat?

Vat Savitri Vrat is the festival surrounding the great Banyan tree (locally known as “Vat” or “Bat”) and lady Savitri who relentlessly pursued Lord Yama for the life of her husband, Satyavan and won the grace of Lord Yama.

It is celebrated on 2 different days in different places. In some places, it is celebrated on Jyestha Amavasya (new moon day of the Jyestha month) and at others it is celebrated on Jyestha Purnima (full moon day of the Jyestha month).

Story of Satyavan-Savitri:

Savitri was the daughter of king Aswapati of Madra Desa. She was married to Satyavan, the son of king Dyumatsen who was in exile. She dedicated herself to the service of her husband and her parents-in-law in the forest. It was predicted much before the marriage of Satyavan and Savitri that Satyavan would die at a very young age. The day of his death arrived and Satyavan died under a Banyan tree. But the merit of Savitri's penance for her husband's life made it difficult for the messengers of Lord Yama to take away Satyavan's soul. Thus, Lord Yama personally came down to take away the soul of Satyavan. Savitri followed Lord Yama throughout the way till the land of the dead. In order to dissuade her from following him, Lord Yama asked her to request for boons. Savitri requested for the well-being of her in-laws, her parents and a son for herself. Lord Yama granted all the 3 boons of Savitri without realizing that he would have to bring her husband back to life if she has to beget a son. Impressed by the intelligence, perseverance and the devotion of Savitri, Lord Yama released the soul of Satyavan to bring him back to life and blessed the couple with a long and happy married life. Due to this love and dedication of Savitri for her husband, she is addressed as “Sati Savitri”.

Appropriate way to observe Vat Savitri Vrat and its significance:

• Vat Savitri Vrat is observed by married women for the health and longevity of their husbands.
• Married women need to wake up early in the morning and take a head-bath.
• Dress-up in bridal kind of clothes and jewellery.
• Visit a nearby temple, circumambulate (parikrama) the Banyan tree in the temple and tie 7 rounds of yellow or red thread around the trunk of Banyan tree.
• Offer lamp, incense, flowers, turmeric, vermillion and water to the Banyan tree which is a representation of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and Sati Savitri and offer obeisances to the holy tree.
• Keep a whole day fast and pray for the well-being of your husband.
• Listen to or recite Satyavan-Savitri story (as shared above) and seek blessings from elders at home.
• Donate clothes, fruits and other useful things in charity to the poor and to the saintly people.
• Break your fast the next day morning after the worship of presiding deities at your home.
• Proper observance of Vat Savitri Vrat by a married woman is considered to bestow a long and healthy life to her husband along with a peaceful and blissful marital life.

Additional Details:

• In South India, especially in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, this vrat is called as Karadaiyan Nonbu.
• This vrat is also known as Peepal Pujan.
• Vat Savitri Vrat observed during Jyestha Purnima is known as Vat Purnima.

This year, Vat Savitri Vrat is celebrated on 28 May 2014 (Jyestha Amavasya) and on 12 June 2014 (Jyeshtha Purnima). wishes all the married women a very happy Vat Savitri Vrat. May you all be blessed with long, healthy, happy and harmonious marital lives.

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