Vat Purnima and its significance in Hindu mythology | more lifestyle | Hindustan Times
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Vat Purnima and its significance in Hindu mythology

Married women fast and perform puja for the wellbeing of their husbands on Vat Poornima, which is similar to Vat Savitri celebrated in Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand and Bihar. The northern states observe Vat Savitri on Jyeshtha amavasya - 15 days ahead of Vat Poornima.

more lifestyle Updated: Jun 08, 2017 12:11 IST
HT Correspondent
Hindu women tying thread on Banyan tree as part of rituals of Vat Savitri puja in Bhopal.
Hindu women tying thread on Banyan tree as part of rituals of Vat Savitri puja in Bhopal.(Mujeeb Faruqui/HT Photo)

Thursday marks this year’s Vat Poornima - the full moon night of Jyestha, the Hindu month. Celebrated in the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat, the festival celebrates the legend of Savitri and Satyavan.

Married women fast and perform puja for the wellbeing of their husbands on Vat Poornima, which is similar to Vat Savitri celebrated in Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand and Bihar. The northern states observe Vat Savitri on Jyeshtha amavasya - 15 days ahead of Vat Poornima.

A Hindu woman performing aarti of Banyan tree as part of rituals of Vat Savitri puja in Bhopal. (Mujeeb Faruqui/HT Photo)

The mythology of Savitri and Satyavan

According to the legends, an honest king - Ashwapati - worshipped Goddess Savitri and asked for a daughter as a boon. When the daughter was born, he named her Savitri after the goddess. When the king wanted to get Savitri married, they wanted to settle for Satyavan. However, the priests predicted that Satyavan would only live for another year. They also said that he would soon lose his kingdom. Savitri would not let that information stop her and insisted on marrying Satyavan.

After a year of happy marriage, when it was time for Satyavan to die, Yamaraj - the Death god - came to take him away. Savitri refused to let go of her husband and started following Yamaraj on his way to Yamlok when he took Satyavan with him. Savitri didn’t stop despite constant reminders that no mortal can reach Yamlok alive. Yamraj then offers three boons to her and she asks for her husband’s kingdom and her in-laws’ prosperity. For the third boon, she asks for a child. After Yamraj agrees to all her requests, Savitri reminds him that she has been a loyal wife and without Satyavan, the Death God’s boon (of her getting her own child) would prove to be fake. It was then that Yamraj had to spare Satyavan’s life.

A Hindu woman chanting Vat Savitri Puraan as part of rituals of Vat Savitri puja in Bhopal. (Mujeeb Faruqui/HT Photo)

How to perform the pooja

Vat Poornima: Married women collect seven kinds of cereals in a basket and cover it with red cloth. Then, Savitri is worshipped under a banyan tree and women tie threads around the trunk. Afterwards, they listen to the legend of Savitri and then offer money and other goods to the priest.

Vat Savitri: Married women gather near a banyan tree (which is said to be a home to the Hindu trinity - Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh) and offer fruits, incense sticks, aarti and sweets to the tree and tie threads around the trunk, doing parikrama. Women from Uttarakhand also tie a part of the thread around their neck.

Later, they read out the story of Savitri.

Some women offer pooja to hand-fans and use it to “cool down” their husbands. Some also stick a banyan leaf in their hair after the pooja.

What does the festival signify?

The festival celebrates Savitri’s loyalty and dedication for her husband and the women observing the fast hope to achieve similar qualities and wish for a better and longer life for their husbands.