Tying threads around a banyan tree (wata).
|Begins||13th date in the month of Jestha|
|Ends||15th date in the month of Jestha|
Vat Purnima or pournima chavan or Wat Purnima (वट पूर्णिमा, vaṭapūrṇimā, also called Vat Savitri is a celebration observed by married women in the Western Indian states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and some regions of eastern Uttar Pradesh. On this Purnima or "full moon" during the three days of the month of Jyeshtha in the Hindu calendar (which falls in May-June in the Gregorian calendar) a married woman marks her love for her husband by tying a ceremonial thread around a banyan tree. The celebration is based on the legend of Savitri and Satyavan as narrated in the epic Mahabharata.
Three days before the foreseen death of Satyavan, Savitri takes a vow of fasting and vigil. Her father-in-law tells her she has taken on too harsh a regimen, but she replies that she has taken an oath to perform the regimen and Dyumatsena offers his support. The morning of Satyavan’s predicted death, he is splitting wood and suddenly becomes weak and lays his head in Savitri’s lap and dies. Savitri places his body under the shade of a Vat (Banyan) tree. Yama, the god of Death, comes to claim Satyavan's soul. Savitri follows him as he carries the soul away. 
Satyavan awakens as though he has been in a deep sleep and returns to his parents along with his wife. Meanwhile, at their home, Dyumatsena regains his eyesight before Savitri and Satyavan return. Since Satyavan still does not know what happened, Savitri relays the story to her parents-in-law, husband, and the gathered ascetics. As they praise her, Dyumatsena’s ministers arrive with news of the death of his usurper. Joyfully, the king and his entourage return to his kingdom.
Though the tree does not play a significant role of the story, it is worshiped in memory of the love in the legend. The festival is followed by married women only, and is prohibited for children and widows.
Vat Purnima in English means a full moon related to the banyan tree. It was a Hindu festival that was celebrated strictly in the Deccan area of southern India. However, in recent years very few communities follow the tradition although it is observed by married women in the Western Indian states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and also in some regions of Eastern Uttar Pradesh. The period of the festival is observed over three days, usually the 13th, 14th and 15th days in the month of Jestha (May–June). Women observe a fast and tie threads around a banyan tree and pray for the well-being of their husbands.
Fast and tradition
On the occasion of Vat Purnima, women keep a fast of three days for their husbands, as Savitri did. During the three days, pictures of a Vat (banyan) tree, Savitri, Satyavan, and Yama, are drawn with a paste of sandal and rice on the floor or a wall in the home. The golden engravings of the couple are placed in a tray of sand, and worshiped with mantras (chanting), and Vat leaves. Outdoors, the banyan tree is worshiped. A thread is wound around the trunk of the tree, and copper coins are offered. Strict adherence to the fast and tradition is believed to ensure the husband a long and prosperous life. During the fast, women greet each other with "जन्म सावित्री हो" (English: "Become a Savitri"). It is believed that until the next seven births their husband will live well.
In his book, B. A. Gupte[lower-alpha 1] provides a Pauranic excerpt to suggest that the mythology behind the festival is symbolic of natural phenomena. He notes that it is the representation of the annual marriage of the earth and nature represented by Satyavan and Savitri. It is like the way the earth dies every year and is rejuvenated by the powers of nature. He points out that the Vat tree was likely chosen due to the mythological aspects connected to the tree that are known to Indians.
In the present day, the festival is celebrated in the following way. Women dress in fine sarees and jewelry, and their day begins with the offering of any five fruits and a coconut. Each woman winds white thread around a banyan tree seven times as a reminder of their husbands. They fast for the whole day.
- An ancient Indian mythologist who specialized on the laws of nature.
- Mathur, Barkha (4 June 2012). "When women safeguard their family - Times of India". http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/When-women-safeguard-their-family/articleshow/13788831.cms. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
- Sen, Debarati S (13 June 2014). "Thane women celebrate Vat Purnima with devotion - Times of India". http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/thane/Thane-women-celebrate-Vat-Purnima-with-devotion/articleshow/36485949.cms. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
- Underhill 1921, p. 127.
- "Vat Purnima to be observed today | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". 2 June 2015. http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-vat-purnima-to-be-observed-today-2091393. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
- Underhill 1921, p. 128.
- Shanta Rameshwar Rao (1 January 1986). In Worship of Shiva. Orient Longman. pp. 29–. ISBN 978-0-86131-684-7. https://books.google.com/books?id=CzlXe-uBXMMC&pg=PA29.
- Kerkar, Rajendra P (Jun 7, 2009). "Vat-Pournima: Worship of the banyan tree". https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/Vat-Pournima-Worship-of-the-banyan-tree/articleshow/4625988.cms.
- "Mumbai: Women celebrate Vat Purnima at Jogeshwari station" (in en). 2 June 2015. http://www.mid-day.com/articles/mumbai-women-celebrate-vat-purnima-at-jogeshwari-station/16259170. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
- Fernandes, Freny (20 June 2016). "Women observe Vat Purnima for husbands’ well-being - Times of India". http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/thane/Women-observe-Vat-Purnima-for-husbands-well-being/articleshow/52822240.cms. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
- B. A. Gupte (1994). Hindu Holidays and Ceremonials: With Dissertations on Origin, Folklore and Symbols. Asian Educational Services. p. 238. ISBN 978-81-206-0953-2. https://books.google.com/books?id=_FSWKWzNSagC. Retrieved 23 June 2018. "In order that the reader may appreciate the Nature-myth of Savitri, which underlies the symbolism, ..., I will quote the Pauranic story."
- Underhill, M.M. (1921). The Hindu Religious Year. Oxford University Press,Aniket Kadam. https://books.google.co.in/books?id=xXkRMgAACAAJ. "Call number AIN-9122"