Vat Savitri is a popular Vedic Fast that is practiced by Indian women on Jyeshtha Krishna Amawasya. It is believed that married women pray for long life of their husbands through this fast, which is inspired by the mythological story of the life of Satyawan and Savitri. On this day, women worship Satyawan, Savitri and the Lord Yamaraja under the Banyan tree, and pray for a long and secure life of their husbands.
On this day, the married women decorate themselves, go to the temple and under the Banyan tree worship the three gods – Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesha and the three goddesses, offer them various vyanjans (dishes) and pray to lord Yama for a long life and prosperity of their husbands.
This fast has its own importance so that the women may not become widow in any life, and no destruction may come to their husband, son or the family. According to the Puranas, in the ancient time, the king Ashwapati ruled over Bhadra Pradesh. He was pious, devotee, bountiful and very kind. He had all the happiness but had no child. For 18 years he had performed Savitri Devi’s Yagya. Pleased with the yagya, Goddess Savitri had promised him that she would take birth at the home of king Ashwapati. Ultimately, a pretty girl took birth at the king’s palace. She grew like the moon.
The king began to look for a suitable groom for his daughter, but when he could not find one, he asked his daughter Savitri to find a suitable groom herself. Savitri set off on a Golden chariot for various pilgrimage centres and Tapovans in search of a suitable groom. After sometime she came back to her palace. There he found Bramharshi Narada with her father. She touched their feet with respect and narrated her journey. She told that Satyavan, the son of Dyumatsen, living in the Tapovan with his parents was fully suitable for her and that she had chosen him as her husband.
Brahma calculated the planetary positions of both and expressed his astonishment. He said that she had done a big mistake. Satyavan’s father had been defeated by enemies and expelled from the kingdom. He was blind too and the biggest thing was that Satyavan had only one more year remaining of his life. He would die when Savitri would be 12 years old. Hearing this, the king grew impatient and asked her to search another groom. But Savitri would not listen. She said that Satyavan may live long or less, she had selected him for his husband and she would marry no one else. Seeing the firm determination of her daughter, the father got them married.
Savitri began to live in the forest with her family, after knowing the time of her husband’s death. Three days before the exact day of Satyavan’s death, she started intense fast. That day she accompanied her husband to the forest for cutting wood. Satyavan climbed the tree for cutting wood but at the decided time, he came down due to pain in his stomach. He told that he had been bitten by a snake. At that time, Savitri saw an image in red clothes. He was the Yamraja. He told Savitri that she was a Pativrata lady and Satyavan had only that much of age, hence he had come to take him. Satyavan carried the soul of Satyavan and set off in the south. Savitri left the body of her husband and followed Yamaraja. When Yamaraja asked her to go back, she said that it was the ideal of a married lady to stay with her husband. Hearing the religious speech of Savitri, Yamaraja’s heart melted. He promised her to give any boon except Satyavan’s life. Savitri asked for the eyes of her father in law and his lost kingdom. Yamaraja blessed her with the boons and moved forward. Yet Savitri continued to follow him.
Then she said to Yamaraja that the life of a lady is useless without her husband. And in such a situation, family ideals or the duty of wife cannot be fulfilled. Yamaraja was pleased to hear all this and asked her to ask for some boon. Savitri asked for a hundred sons. Yamaraja granted her the boon and moved forward. When he asked her to go back, Savitri said that he was carrying the soul of her husband. How she could get sons without him. Due to the devotion of Savitri and her firm determination, Yamaraja was very much pleased. He brought Satyavan to life, and blessed all the women in this world who keep this fast, never to become a widow. Thus, Satyavan and Savitri spent a happy life, and gave a unique inspiration to the world.