The sacred Vata or Ficus bengalensis
is the most venerated tree among Hindus. Vata or Banyan tree is considered as immortal and is held in great adoration since the Vedic days. Lord Buddha had attained his enlightenment when seated under a Vata Vriksha or Bo-tree. The oldest Vata is found at Prayag where three sacred rivers—Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswad— meet. In ancient scriptures like the Aitareya Brahmana, Ramayana, Uttar Ramchant there is mention about this Vata tree. This sacred tree symbolises Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Sasthi, Krishna, Lakshmi, Kuber, Makhadan, etc.
We find the legendary reference of W. Crooke about Vata in the Brahmapurana where it is recorded that "Rishi Markandeya had the presumption to ask Narayan to show him a specimen of his delusive power. The God in answer to his prayer drowned the whole world in a sudden flood and only the Akshya Vata or imperishable banyan tree raised its head above the water, with a little child seated on its topmost bough, that put out its head and saved the terrified saint just as he was on the point of drowning."
The story about the origin of Vata Vriksha narrates that once Shiva and Parvad were engaged in amorous dalliance in a secluded place where Agni came to crack a joke on the instigation of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. Parvati became angry and cursed the instigators and immediately Brahma was metamorphosed into Palasa, Vishnu into Peepal and Maheshwara into Vata.
Since time immemorial Vata is being worshipped by the people of the Indian subcontinent and referred to in different names.
In Sanskrit and Bengali this is known as Vata or Akshya Vata. In Hindi this is called Bor. In Gujarati it is known as Vad. Marathi devouts call it Vada. In Telugu Vata is known as Peddamatti. In Tamil Nadu it is called Pudavarn. Finally in Kerala it is known as Pearl.
In the month of Jyestha (May-June) women of Maharashtra and Gujarat worship Vad or Vada on the 15th day. In eastern India during Shasti Puja Vata branch is a must because this is worshipped on the occasion of 'fertility' puja. Vata is also worshipped as Brahma, thus people of Bengal worship it on every Saturday during Jyestha.
In the famous legendary story of Satyavana-Savitri where on Satyavana's death Savitri fought against Yama-the God of Death, to revive her husband, she is said to have kept Vata Savitri Vrata or fast on the fifteenth day of Jyestha. It is said Savitri got back the lost life of her husband Satyavana from Yama. Thus womenfolk keep this Vrata for the longevity of their husbands. Moreover, Vata tree is also very popularly known as 'Eccha Vnksha' or the 'Wish Tree' Varied forms of medicine are prepared from this tree.
Thus Vata Vriksha stands firm on its ground and remains a strong sign and symptom of Hindu symbology.