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Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Significance of Vat Savitri Amavasya – a Hindu festival

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Vat Savitri just passed yesterday. It falls on Amavasya (dark or moonless night) of Jyeshtha (say June) month of the Hindu calendar. What is vat-Savitri? Many of our reader may know it very well. For others who do not know it and who want to know its significance – this short piece is being presented by ECOSENSORIUM.

Hindu ladies worshipping VAT- SAVITRI

Well, India is a country of festivals. People belonging to different religions and cultures have different festivals that are deeply rooted in goodness, human values, spiritual values, and social integrity. Vat Savitri is a Hindu festival mainly celebrated by ladies who keep fast on this day and worship Goddess Savitry under Banyan tree. Vat means Banyan Tree (Ficus benghalensis) and Savitri is the name of a Hindu Goddess. Savitri is also the name of a brave and religious lady of ancient India. Married ladies remain on fast on this day and worship Goddess Savitri under a Banyan Tree. They tie red coloured sacred thread around the trunk of the Banyan tree to which they worship. They sit under the tree and listen to the story of Savitri. The narrator of the story remains a priest of some temple or a professional Brahmin.

Vat Savitri is a festival of its own meaning, philosophy and values. It establishes the power and virtues of ladies in Indian societies on one hand, and generates awareness towards the protection of trees, the integral parts of our natural environment.

Savitri means Gayatri or Saraswati, two Goddesses of Hindus. The story goes like this – There was a king in Bhadra Desh (a country) who did not have any offspring. His wife, the queen worshipped Goddess Savitri and pleased her. The pleased Goddess blessed her with a beautiful girl child, and both the king and the queen named her Savitri on the name of the Goddess. Savitri was later married to Satyavan, a boy with a short life spawn. Feared from his short life as told by priests, Savitri always accompanied Satyavan wherever he went. One day when Satyavan went to the forest to collect wood, Savitri also accompanied him. He climbed on a banyan tree to collect dried twigs but came down soon when he felt head ache. Savitri sat under the tree with the head of her husband in her lap. Meanwhile the God of death Yama appeared before her and told her that her husband’s life was over and he was there to drag the soul out of his body. Savitri prohibited him and argued with him for a long time. At last Savitri won over him and Yama had to free the soul of her husband along with giving her a number of boons. Thus Satyavan came to life.

The story reveals us that even the God of death had to surrender before the wisdom and moral strength of a lady. The story teaches ladies to become great like Savitri in maintaining relations with their husbands, and teaches humans to recognize the power and goodness of ladies.

Hindus believe that all the three gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva live in Banyan tree. They also believe that Lord Krishna rests in the pleasant shade of this tree.

In Ayurveda, Banyan tree is regarded as a tree of great medicinal values. It has the power of curing wounds, arthritis and asthma. It releases huge volumes of oxygen after absorbing carbon dioxide of air. Since its canopy remains larger than any other tree, the total surface area of leaves is also very great. It facilitates intake of great volume of carbon dioxide and the tree in turn releases great volume of oxygen which is essential for life.

Thus Vat Savitri is a Hindu festival which teaches us to respect and empower ladies on one hand, and to protect our environment on the other.
Key Words : India, Hindus, religion, festival, Ficus benghalensis, vat, savitri

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