Vat Savitri Puja is a festival celebrated by Hindu women across the country. The festival symbolises the true and eternal love between a husband and wife. It is a festival that is dedicated entirely to a married couple and on this day, Hindu women observe a fast to pray for their husband's long and happy life.
Savitri was a princess born to King Asvapati and his wife. Savitri was dear to her father and therefore, when she attained the age of marriage, her father asked her to choose a man for herself. Soon after this, the family went on a pilgrimage.
While coming back from the pilgrimage, Savitri and her family thought of taking some rest near the house of Dyumatsena, a blind king who lost his kingdom and was living in a forest with his son Satyavahan, wife and some trusted followers.
Savitri developed a liking for Satyavahan and upon reaching her home, she told her father that she wants to marry Satyavahan. Hearing this, King Asvapati was surprised and asked Savitri to change her mind. This is because, Satyavahan was cursed to die after one year of his marriage. Savitri's father tried to persuade his only daughter as he didn't want to see her going widow after a year of her marriage.
But Savitri was determined and therefore, she got married to Satyavahan. The couple lived happily until their first wedding anniversary was three days away. Savitri was aware of the curse and therefore, she decided to pray to Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe prior to three days of her wedding anniversary. She also observed a fast for the entire three days and took the best care of her husband.
On the third day i.e., the wedding anniversary of the couple, Satyavahan took his last breath in the lap of his wife while they were sitting under a banyan tree. As soon as Yamraj, the God of Death approached to take away Satayavahan's soul, Savitri too followed. She walked behind Yamraj and his husband's soul. Yamraj tried his best to convince Savitri to return back to her home, stating she is destined to stay alive on earth. But Savitri said, "What would I do without my husband? I don't want to live without him."
After seeing her dedication towards her husband, Yamraj gave three boons to Savitri but with one condition that she can't ask the life of her husband. Savitri then sought three boons. They were:
She actually tricked the Yamraj in the third boon as to bear children, she would need her husband. Yamraj said, "Tathastu" meaning 'may you get what you desire'. As a result, her father-in-law was able to see again and got his kingdom back. While her own father was leading a life full of contentment. Also, her husband was alive once again.
Yamraj was then impressed by her intelligence and blessed the couple with marital bliss and long life.
Since Stayavahan had died under the Banyan tree and Savitri was engrossed in worshipping Lord Brahma under the same tree, the tree holds great importance on this day. Women not only worship Banyan trees on Vat Savitri Puja but also make jewellery with the help of leaves. They then wear the leave jewellery for the entire day and worship Lord Brahma. They ask the Almighty to bless their husbands with a long, healthy, peaceful and prosperous life. Women pour water in the roots of the tree and tie a sacred thread around it.