Hanuman Jayanti: Hindus worship divine courage, fearlessness

Tall orange building, a temple, three stories with a deck at the top, in dirt street of India

The Karmanghat Hanuman Temple in Hyderabad, India. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

TUESDAY, APRIL 15: In many regions of India, this is the annual celebration of the birth of a “monkey-god”—Hanuman Jayanti. Ever a steadfast and ardent devotee of Lord Rama, Hanuman often is honored along with Lord Rama; devotees of Hanuman hope to obtain his strength and energy. The Ramayana and other texts detail his crediting all superhuman powers to Lord Rama, labeling himself only as a servant of the deity.

It is believed that Hanuman can assume any form. Yet, most notably, Hanuman is known for his humility. (Learn more at Taj Online.) On his jayanti, Hindus across India flock to Hanuman temples, recite Hanuman Chalisa (song of Hanuman) and apply a reddish-orange tilaka to their foreheads, signifying the color of the monkey-god.

Festivities for Hanuman Jayanti begin early, with pujas, trips to the temple and special prayers. Prayers and hymns continue throughout the day, as devotees look to Lord Hanuman to avert evil, bring courage and deliver willpower. (Wikipedia has details.) Many Hindus fast and read the Hunuman Chalisa on his jayanti, before joining in Prasad—an offering of food distributed among devotees. (Read about this, and the many other holidays occurring in India this week, from Times of India.)

Did you know? Hanuman avatar is considered the 11th Rudra avatar of Lord Siva.

Sri Hanuman enjoys great popularity in India, and the monkey-god also is well known in Hindu communities worldwide. In Trinidad and Tobago, Hanuman statues reach 15-, 25- and even 85-foot. Newsday reports that devotees will sing Hanuman Chalisa 108 times, uninterrupted, for the ideal yogi and beloved deity.

HANUMAN JAYANTI: Hindus venerate Lord Rama’s devotee

Stone statue of monkey god Hanuman draped with colorful flowers

A decorated statue of Hanuman. Photo in public domain

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.