|| Hanuman Jayanthi is celebrated to commemorate the
birth of Hanuman, the son of Vayu – God of winds – and Anjana, the monkey god
widely venerated throughout India. It is celebrated during Chaitra and is especially
important to Brahmacharis, wrestlers and bodybuilders. Hanuman was an ardent devotee
of Rama, and is worshipped for his unflinching devotion to the god. From the early
morning, devotees flock Hanuman temples to worship the monkey god. The officiating
priest bathes the idol and offers special prayers to the gods. Then the entire
body is smeared with sindoora and oil, a symbol of life and strength. According
to a popular belief, once when Sita was applying sindoora to her hair, Hanuman
asked her the reason for doing so. She replied that by applying sindoora, she
ensured a long life for her husband. The more sindoora she applied, the longer
Rama's life would be. The devoted Hanuman then smeared his entire body with sindoora,
in an effort to ensure Rama's immortality. Hence Hanuman's idol is always daubed
People offer sweets and fruit, especially bananas, to the god. Since Hanuman is
a monkey god, monkeys in zoos and neighboring areas are also objects of veneration
on this day. Men also fast from morning till evening. In some parts of the country,
especially Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the festival involves more elaborate celebrations.
Huge tents are erected in front of Hanuman temples where people congregate to
listen to recitations of the Hanuman Chalisa.
| Entertainment programmes are organized on this occasion,
the nautanki in Uttar Pradesh and the jatrain Bihar being the most popular. These
dramas represent a particular aspect of the life of Hanuman, especially emphasizing
his devotional nature and his bravery. Many people congregate to watch these programmes.
Games like wrestling are a common part of this festival. Body-builders and wrestlers
assemble at a wrestling field in the morning after praying for blessings from
the monkey god. A tilak of orange sindoora from Hanuman's body is applied to their
forehead, for it is considered to be auspicious and bestow good luck.
Wrestling commences with both wrestlers crying 'Jai Hanuman' or 'Hail Hanuman'.
The winner is rewarded handsomely on this occasion. Other daring games like balancing
an immensely heavy stone on one's chest, and pulling a heavy jeep or car with
one's teeth are also popular nowadays. All these events represent the power and
strength that Hanuman symbolizes.
The cult of Hanuman is fairly strong in India and hence Hanuman Jayanthi is an
important festival. Hanuman is the symbol of strength and energy. As an unmarried,
celibate god, he is especially popular with body-builders, who believe that like
him, one needs to be celibate in order to have a strong body. Hanuman is said
to be able to assume any form at will, wield rocks, move mountains, dart through
the air, seize the clouds and rival Vishnu's bird, Garuda in swiftness off light.
He is worshipped in folk tradition as a deity with magical powers and the ability
to conquer evil spirits.