Time For The Festivity
The 'Amavasya' (last day of the dark fortnight) in the month of 'Jyestha' is known as "Savitri Amavasya" or "Savitri Brata". This day is most auspicious for the married Hindu women with husbands alive. They observe it as a vow with great devotion and pray for the long life of their husbands.
The Legend Behind The Brata
The Brata has been named after Savitri. In 'Mahabharata' and other puranas the romantic episode of 'Savitri-Satyaban' has been elaborately narrated with ideological veneration. Savitri was the beautiful daughter of king 'Aswapati' of 'Madra Desa'. She was unparallel both in virtue and beauty. As a suitable groom couldn't be found out, her father gave her complete freedom to choose her own partner in life.
With a band of veteran ministers she travelled many countries and religious centres in search of a suitable partner, but couldn't find one of her choice. While returning desperately a handsome young man caught her eyes. He was engaged in cutting wood in a jungle. The young man was no other than Satyaban, a prince in exile who was living in the forest with his blind father 'Dyumatsen'. Savitri selected him as her life's partner.
But 'Narada' forecasted that he would die young. Then the king asked his dear daughter to select another. But, Savitri was firm in her determination and ultimately married him. She left the palace and lived with her husband and the in-laws in the forest. As a devoted wife and daughter in-law she took all pains to take care of them.
Gradually the ordained time for the death of Satyaban drew near. One day while cutting wood in the jungle his head reeled and he fell down from the tree and then expired on the lap of his beloved wife, Savitri. Then appeared 'Yamraj', the death God to take away the soul of Satyaban from his body. Savitri deeply hurt pleaded to Yamraj not to be separated from her husband. If at all he would take away the soul of her husband she would also follow. Yamraj was taken aback at such a request and explained that it was impossible.
Instead he wanted to grant three boons. Savitri cleverly asked for three boons and Yamraj, in haste, conceded to it. Savitri could regain the kingdom of her father-in-law by his first boon; get back the eyes of her in-laws by the second boon. The third boon was that she would be the mother of hundred sons and without a husband it was impossible. As a Sati, she can't take another husband. Yamraj, being out witted and moved by the devotion of Savitri returned the life of her husband. Satyaban came to life again and both of them lived happily thereafter.
In deep regards to Savitri all Hindu women observe this festival worshiping and propitiating her as a 'Devi'. The morale of the festival is to teach the women to be virtuous devotional and painstaking like Savitri to make worldly life happy and peaceful.
In the early morning the women take purificatory bath and wear new clothes, new bangles and apply vermilion on the forehead and the hair-parting line. Images of Savitri are never made. The grinding stone ('Sila-Pua') is represented as Savitri and worshipped. Wet pulses and rice, mango, jackel fruit, lemon, banana and several other fruits are offered as 'Bhoga' (offering). After observing fasting for the whole day they simply take the Bhoga. In the afternoon when all formalities of worship are over they bow low to their respective husbands and elderly people.