Savitri Brata, also known as Savithri Amavasya, is an important fast (brata) observed by married women in Orissa. Fasting on the no moon day in the Hindu month of Jyestha is day is considered highly auspicious. In 2009, the date of Savitri Brata is May 24. The festival is based on the unparalleled devotion and determination shown by Savitri to save her husband Satyabana (Satyavan) from the clutches of Yamaraj (the god of death).
Married women in Orissa fast during the day and listen to the story of Savitri and Satyabana. Women fast on this day for the long life of the husbands.
How to observe Savitri Brata?
Women wake up early morning on the Savitri Brata day and after taking bath, wear new clothes and ornaments including bangles. All married women wear red vermillion on the forehead, which is elongated to touch the line parting the hair.
Savitri is symbolically represented by the grinding stone, locally known as Sila Pua. The grinding stone is thoroughly cleaned and worshipped. Bhoga or offering to Savitri consists of rice, wet pulses and locally available fruits like mango, jackfruit, banana etc.
The fasting begins at sunrise and ends after sunset with the evening prayers.
In some places, parents, elders and brothers give a token amount of money to fasting woman.Women take the blessing of parents and other elders.
The fast is broken by consuming the offering made to Savitri.
Women also make it a point to read or listen to the Savitri and Satyabana story mentioned in the Mahabharata.
Savitri Brata Story
Legend has it that Princess Savitri, the daughter of King Ashwapati of Bhadra Kingdom, fell in love with Satyavan, a princess in exile and who was now leading the life of a woodcutter. Sadly, Satyavan was destined to die within a year and Savitri was made aware of this fact by Rishi Narada. But Savitri decided to get married to Satyavan and live with him in the forest.
As predicted, Satyavan fell from a tree and died within a year. Yamraj, the god of death, arrived to carry him away. Savitri made it clear to Yamraj that she will follow Yamraj along with her husband.
Yamraj tried several ways to deter Savitri from following him but all his efforts were in vain and Savitri remained adamant. Finally, he agreed to give her three boons but not the life of her husband. Savitri agreed.
With first boon she got Satyavan’s father reinstated as King. With the second boon she was able to restore the eyesight of her blind in-laws. The third boon she demanded that she should have 100 sons from her husband.
Lord Yama without any thought said 'so be it'. Soon, Yama realized that Savitri has tricked him. He had to now bring back Satyavan to life to keep his promise.
Moved by Savitri’s devotion and determination, Yamraj brought back Satyavan to life.
There are numerous Vratas based on the Savithri and Satyavan legend including the Vat Savitri Puja in North India and the Karadayin Savitri Nombu festival in Tamil Nadu