Hanuman Jayanti

Hanuman Jayanti marks the birth of Hanuman- the monkey god, during the month of Chaitra (April).

Hanuman symbolizes strength and power and is also known as Bajrangbali. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Ram, and is worshipped for his unflinching devotion to the god. From the early morning, devotees flock Hanuman temples to worship the monkey god. The priest bathes the idol and offers special prayers to the god. The entire body of Hanuman is then smeared with sindoor and oil, a symbol of life and strength.

According to a popular belief, once when Sita was applying sindoor to her hair, Hanuman asked her the reason for doing so. She said that by applying sindoor, she ensured a long life for her husband. The more sindoor she applied, the longer Lord Ram's life would be. The devoted Hanuman then smeared his entire body with sindoor, in an effort to ensure Lord Ram's immortality. Hence Hanuman's idol is always smeared with sindoor.

On this day, devotees offer sweets and fruit, especially bananas, to the god. 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.

Festive programs are organized on this occasion, such as the Nautanki in Uttar Pradesh and the Jatra in Bihar being the most popular. These dramas represent a particular aspect of the life of Hanuman, especially emphasizing his devotional nature and his bravery in the epic, Ramayana.

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 sindoor from Hanuman's body is applied to their forehead, for it is considered to be auspicious and bestow good luck. All these events and games are said to represent the power and strength that Hanuman symbolizes.

The worship and belief in Hanuman is strong in India and Hanuman Jayanti is an important festival. 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.