Vatasavitri is a vowed religious observance performed by married women on the full moon day (pournima) of Jyeshtha to prolong their wifehood. Lord Brahma along with Savitri is the main deity while Satyavan, Savitri, Narad and Lord Yama are the subordinate deities this vowed religious observance. Among the famous, chaste women (pativratas) in India, Savitri is considered the ideal. She is also considered the symbol of eternal wifehood.
When Lord Yama took away Satyavan’s (her husband’s) life Savitri debated about the scriptures with Him, for three days. Appeased with her, Lord Yama brought Satyavan back to life. The discussion took place below the banyan (vata) tree. Hence the banyan tree is associated with Savitri. Women began this vowed religious observance for longevity of their husbands. The banyan (vad), fig (pimpal), holy fig (oudumbar) and shami trees are considered sacred and are used in sacrificial fires (yadnyas). Among all these trees the life of the banyan is the longest. Besides it spreads extensively by means of its aerial roots. Women ritualistically worship the deities Brahma and Savitri residing in the banyan tree and pray ‘Bestow health, longevity, wealth and progeny upon my husband and me. May the family grow and become prosperous’
1. Tithi: Jyeshtha Pournima (Full moon day of the month of Jyeshtha)
2. Objective: This vrat was started by married women to prolong their married life, like Savitri did.
3. Importance of Savitri: Among the famous, chaste women in Bharat, Savitri is considered a role model. She is also considered the symbol of eternal married life.
4. Deity of the vrat: Lord Brahma, along with Savitri is the main Deity while Satyavan, Savitri, Narad and Lord Yama are the subordinate Deities in this vrat.
5. Importance of the banyan tree: When Lord Yama took away Satyavan’s life, his wife Savitri debated on the scriptures with Him for three days. Appeased with her, Lord Yama brought Satyavan back to life. The discussion took place below a banyan tree. Hence, the banyan tree is associated with Savitri.
A. ‘The banyan tree survives even the Dissolution of the Universe. It lives on with time.
B. During the Dissolution of the Universe, a child Mukunda slept on a banyan leaf.
C. In Prayag, Lord Ram, Lakshman and Sita rested under the everlasting banyan tree.
D. A banyan tree is the resting place for Lord Brahma,
Lord Vishnu, Lord Mahesh, Lord Narasimha and Lord Madhav.
E. The Banyan, Pipal (Bo tree), Audumbar (Cluster fig tree) and Shami (Indian Mesquite tree), are considered sacred andare used in sacrificial fires. Amongst these trees, the life of the banyan is the longest. Besides, it spreads extensively by means of its aerial roots.
F. Cataract is cured if the mixture of cotton crushed into gum of banyan tree is put into the eyes.
6. Method of performing the vrat
A. Sankalp: First, the married woman should make a sankalp thus – “May my husband and I have a healthy and long life.”
B. Worship: Shodashopchar-puja of the banyan tree should be performed. After the ritual of abhishek, a thread should be tied thrice in a clockwise direction around the trunk of the banyan tree. At the end of the puja, one should pray thus to Savitri and Lord Brahma, “Let me have a happy, uninterrupted and joyous married life, let me get the same husband in every birth, let there be prosperity with food and the family.”
C. Fasting: Women should fast the entire day.
(Members of the Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti consider ‘Vatpournima’ as a farce. How great is the Hindu Dharma, which considers that God exists in every particle of the Creation and teaches us to worship trees as Deities, and how petty are these so called intellectuals, heretics and communists, who consider the Hindu Dharma a farce! - Compiler)
Source: Sanatan Sanstha's publication Holy festivals, Religious festivals and Vowed religious observances, Compilers : Dr. Jayant Athavale and Dr. (Smt.) Kunda Jayant Athavale