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Saturday, June 12, 2010

VAT- SAVITRY : a celebration that protects environment

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The tradition and culture of India have various reflections of love and worship of nature on the whole and its different components like trees, hills and mountains, and animals including birds. Sacred groves of different types are worshipped in India by Hindus and b other sections in other countries also. Individual trees like Peepal (Ficus religiosa), and Bargad or Vat (Ficus benghalensis) have special traditional, cultural and religious importance. Since these trees have got important connections with the lives and survival of numerous animals of the environment, their protection through religion, culture and traditions has immense value in view of protection of environment and propagation of ethical values. Many celebrations, poojas and functions in Hindu religion have been associated with worship of trees and vat- savitri is one of them.

The Hindu celebration or pooja named Vat Savitri, as per the Hindu calendar falls on the full moon day in the month of Jyeshtha around May- June. This year the celebration fell on this day that is on 12th June. Married ladies were seen worshiping under Banyan trees and encircling red threads of cotton around the trunks of these trees. At certain places, ladies were seen performing pooja under the directions of pundits or Brahmins.





In fact, Vat Savitri is the worship of Yama the God of death, under a banyan tree, preferably a mighty one. Ladies remain on fast on this day and worship Yama the God of death and Savitri- a lady in ancient India as described in Purana who was devoted of her husband. In spite of the fact that astrologers told her that the boy to whom she was going to marry had a very short life spawn, and that he was exiled to live in forest with his old parents, she chose him to marry. In the forest she lived with her husband and his parents with full devotion and sense of service. One day while cutting a dead twig of a mighty Banyan tree by climbing high on it, he felt some trouble in his head and came down. His head was in the lap of Savitri and he fainted. Soon the God of death – Yama appeared before him and tried to snatch away the soul of Satyavan, her husband. Savitri did not loose heart and followed Yama. When Yama asked her to return she simply told that she had the religious duty to follow her husband wherever he went. Yama requested her to go back and to ask some for boon. She asked to become a mother which was accepted by the God. Again Savitri kept on following him. When he requested her again to go back, she asked that how could she become a mother if her husband did not live. On this as the story goes, Yama had to return back the soul of Satyavan, and thus she brought back her husband to life. In the memory of this, incident ladies especially Hindu ladies observe this celebration by keeping fast the whole day and by worshipping the God of death and Savitri – the SATI or a woman devoted religiously to her husband.

Vat Savitri is a celebration observed by women especially in the Indian states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Orissa, Maharashtra and some other states. Hindu families living abroad, also observe this celebration and ladies keep fast on this day. They pray for the long life of their husbands.

Whatever the religious belief, the tradition of celebrating Vat- Savitri is an environment friendly practice, and it not for religion it should be celebrated for the sake of environment and for the propagation and protection of the Great Banyan tree which helps us in many ways and keeps alive numerous birds, insects, rodents, worms etc. by its delicious fruits, and has been protecting the travelers from the scorching sun. Its long and strong roots protect the soil from being washed away in heavy rains and the extract of the roots of which has been reported to provide immense power of fertility and vitality when taken internally.

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