THURSDAY, APRIL 24: Mere days after wrapping up celebrations for Lord Rama, Hindus honor Rama’s most ardent devotee—Hanuman—on Hanuman Jayanti. Popularly known as the “monkey god,” Hanuman served Sri Rama throughout his life, always crediting Rama for any personal accomplishments. Hanuman’s humility and ability to give without expecting return earned him the title of a true Karma Yogi.
Even Lord Rama spoke of himself as indebted to Hanuman, pointing out that Hanuman’s “superhuman deeds” made him a hero. When Hanuman would take no credit but, instead, attribute his acts to Lord Rama, Rama declared: “All will honor and worship you like Myself. Whenever My stories are recited or glories sung, your glory will be sung before Mine.” (Wikipedia has details.) As Hanuman was born at dawn, his devotees worship and perform Prasad, or the offering of food, today at sunrise.
Legend tells that Hanuman came to earth as part of the Vanara community, a group whose members bore a reddish orange hue by assuming an ape-like form. Today’s Hindu Hanuman temples are marked with reddish orange coloring, and devotees apply tilaka of sindhur, a type of facial coloring, in the same hue.
Stemming from his unflinching devotion to Lord Rama was Hanuman’s ability to do what no other could: cross the ocean, burn a city without personal harm and bring others back from the dead, all in the name of Rama. Hindus hold that Hanuman can assume any form at will.
HANUMAN JAYANTI 2013
Though dates vary widely by region, most Hindus observe Hanuman Jayanti today or, in some places, during festivities the weekend prior. (Find related news stories at The Times of India.) Many workers enjoy a weeklong holiday at this time, in respect to both the Jain Mahavir Jayanti and Hindu Hanuman Jayanti.