By Diptimayee parida | bangalore August 31, 2017
According to Hinduism the sacred vata vriksha or the Banyan tree is the most important among the sacred trees. This sacred tree symbolizes Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Sasthi, Krishna, Lakshmi and Kuber. In ancient epics like Ramayana, Uttar Ramcharit is mentioned about this tree. The Banyan tree scientifically named Ficus benghalensis is considered immortal and is revered since the Vedic periods. In Buddhism it is said that Lord Buddha had attained enlightenment under the Banyan tree. In Hindu religion vata vriksh is perfect for meditation. The oldest vata or banyan tree is found at Prayag on Allahabad where the three sacred rivers meet.
There is a story about the origin of the vata vriksh. It is said that once lord Shiva and his consort Parvati were engaged in amorous dalliances in an isolated place. Then Agni came to crack a joke on the instigation of Trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara. This made Parvati angry and she cursed the instigators and metamorphosed Lord Brahma into palasa, Vishnu into peepal and Maheswara into Vata.
The trees are named in different languages. In Sanskrit and Bengali is called vata or Akshya vata, in Gujarati Vada, in telugu peddamati and in Hindi it is called Bar.
The women of Maharashtra and Gujarat are worshiped to vad or vata as a part of Hindu rituals on the 15th day of the jyestha month. In eastern India on the special occasion of sasthi puja the branch of this is compulsorily used. The Bengali people worship the vata vriksh as the lord Brahma on Saturdays during jyestha.
In the savitri and satyaban story, when savitri lost her husband as destined one year after her marriage near a Banyan tree. She followed yama to the land of the dead and through determination and intelligence managed to secure back her husband’s life. In memory of that event, the vata savitri puja became popular among the Indian women who keep this fast for the longevity of their husbands. They are protecting themselves from widowhood which is believed to be worst fate for Hindu women.