The Story of Tamil Karadayan Nombu – Based on the legend of Satyavan Savitri



Karadayan Nombu or Vratam is an important fast observed by Tamil women. It is based on the legend of Satyavan and Savitri. Based on this myth each region in India observes an Upvaas in different time of the year. In Tamil Nadu, it is observed during the transition of Tamil Month Maasi and Panguni. The story of Satyavan and Savitri is a sub plot in the Mahabharata.

King Ashtapati had a beautiful and intelligent daughter named Savitri. The King gave her the permission to choose her husband. One day, Savitri met a young man in the forest who was carrying his blind parents in two baskets balanced on either side of a stick. The young man was Satyavan.

Impressed by Satyavan’s devotion towards his blind parents, Savitri decides to marry him. On enquiry, the King found out from Sage Narada that Satyavan was the son of a deposed king and that he was destined to die in a year.

King first refused to the marriage but Savitri was adamant. Finally, the King relented and the marriage was conducted and the couple left for the forest.

They led a happy life and soon a year passed and Savitri realized that Satyavan would die any moment. So she kept fast and always followed him. She cooked a special adai and served it to her family and gave some as offering to the Gods.

Next day, she followed Satyavan to the forest. While cutting woods, he fell down and fainted. Soon, Savitri realized that Satyavan is dying. Suddenly she felt the presence of Yama, the god of death. She saw him carrying the soul of Satyavan and she followed Yama.

Yama first ignored Savitri thinking that she will soon return back to her husband’s body. But she persisted and kept on following him. Yama tried few tricks to persuade her but nothing worked. Then Yama said that it is impossible for him to give back the dead as it is against the nature’s law. Instead, he will give her three boons.

Savitri agreed with the first boon she asked for a son for her father. With the second boon she asked that her in-laws be reinstated in their kingdom with full glory.

Finally, for the third boon she asked ‘I would like to have children.’

Yama immediately said ‘granted.’ But soon Yama realized that he had been tricked by Savitri.

Yama remained silent for a minute and then smiled and said ‘I appreciate you persistence. But what I liked more was you readiness to marry a man whom you loved even though you knew that he would only live for a year. Go back to your husband he will soon wake up.’

Soon Savitri and Satyavan were reunited.

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