Legend of Vat Purnima
The celebration of Vat Purnima is associated with the legend of the famous woman named ‘Savitri’ and her beloved husband ‘Satyavan’. As per a prophecy, Satyavan was not destined to enjoy a long life and once while he was resting on his wife's lap, he died. Lord Yama approached Savitri, to take the lifeless body of Satyavan away, along with him but Savitri refused to part with her deadhusband. Despite the arrival of several messengers of death, who served Lord Yama, Savitri was determined not to let them take his body away. Finally, Lord Yama himself appeared in front of her and requested her to let him take Satyavan. He was compelled to offer her a boon as Savitri was hell-bent on keeping Satyavan’s body with herself. Then, Savitri asked Yama to grant her the boon which would ensure good health to her in-laws and started following Lord Yama as he seized Satyavan’s body. Confused, Yama offered her yet another boon wherein she asked for the prosperity of her own parents which was immediately granted to her. However, she continued to follow Lord Yama to His residence who once again offered to grant her a final boon. Savitri asked for a son, but there was a twist to this boon as she would be unable to have any son without her husband. Lord Yama realized the extent of affections she harboured for her husband and was moved. Therefore, he restored her husband’s soul back to his body. Since then, Savitri came to be known as the legendary wife and her affection for her husband Satyavan.
Rituals of Vat Purnima
In Vat Purnima, the women are clad in beautiful bridal costumes and jewelleries during the festival and fast throughout the night, till the next morning for the longevity of their husbands. Thereafter, following the conclusion of their fast; garments, fruits and several other objects are offered to the saints inside a bamboo basket. After worshipping the ‘vat’ or banyan tree, women listen to the legendary tale or ‘Vat Savitri Vrata’ which is associated with Savitri, seated in groups. Prayers are offered to the banyan tree wherein the women respectfully offer Ganga water, sprinkle red vermilion or ‘kumkum’ powder on the tree and finally tie cotton threads of red and yellow colour around the trunk of the tree. They then perform the ‘parikrama’ which implies going around the tree as many as seven times.
Significance of Vat Purnima
Vat Purnima is performed by married women for the longevity, well-being and prosperity of their husbands. It is considered as a symbol of love and devotion by the wife to her husband. Traditionally, the festival is celebrated for 3 days and 3 nights. Now, women observe fast and perform puja only on the main ritual day.