As the name indicates this Brata or vow is dedicated to Goddess Sabitri, who has fought regiorously with Lord Yama (God of Death) for her husband’s long life. According to mythology. Sabirti is regarded as one of the Sati (Sacred woman) out of the Pancha Satis (five sacred Women) of our time.Though Sabitri has fully devoted his life for her husband, this Brat teaches all the wives of Orissa to respect their husbands. On this day, each and every married woman goes to the Temples and wears new sarees to offer her worship. Some women perform their puja at home.
After washing the ‘Silapua’ (made up stone) they decorate that with haldi (Turmeric), Sindoor (Vermillion), new saree and gold ornaments. Then they offer various types of fruits as ‘prasad’. All day long, the women only take fruits and observe fasting and keep praying to the Goddess for the longevity for their husband.
Essentially a fasting day for married women, the ritual practised for Savitri is meant or the well-being and long life of the husband. The grinding stone used in the house is wrapped in a fresh cloth after washing with scented holy water and offered only ripe mangoes, coconut, palm, banana, pineapple in prayer along with abranch of the banyan tree. The fasting is assigned to Savitri and Satyavana her husband who was destined to die within one year but was brought back to life by her severe penance. The God of death, Yama is implored by Savitri when he is about to leave his body and due to her sheer determination and devotion to her husband, she wins him back to life and soon Satayavana regains his lost kingdom.
The Brata has been named after Savitri. In Mahabharata and other puranas the romantic episode of Savitri-Satvaban 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 an impossibility. 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 worshipping and propitiating her as a Devi. The morale of the festival is to teach the women to be virtous 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 vermillion on the fore-head 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.