Shri Hanuman or Anjaneya Swami, the ardent devotee of Lord Rama, is a symbol of protection, strength, and courage, who is as important a God in Hindu Mythology as Lord Rama, his master, himself. Thousands of years ago, as written in Shri Ramayana, the holy Hindu scripture, Hanuman was sent to Lanka to the empire of the evil Ravana, who was holding Mata Sita captive, to give a message to her. There are many more stories in Hindu mythology that depict the powers of Lord Hanuman as superhuman and makes him quite popular amongst devotees or worshippers for these stellar reasons.
In 2020, Shri Hanuman Jayanti, the birthday of Lord Hanuman, is observed on 8th April. Hanuman or Mahavira or the valiant one is known for his unsurmountable feats in the Hindu epic Ramayana. To save his master Lord Rama’s brother from dying on the battlefield where he is lying unconscious after being hit by an enemy arrow, Lord Hanuman brings the whole mountain with the jadi booti that would bring him back to consciousness and save his life.
For passing on Lord Rama’s message to Mata Sita, he leaps across the ocean to reach Lanka, where she is held captive by the evil demon king Ravana. He is known for many such feats throughout his life which are not possible to perform by a mere human. Because of his superhuman strength and power, he is fondly called Mahavira and Bajrang Bali.
He is also said to be the God who is present in the Kaliyuga, listening to his devotees’ prayers. People who wish to attain victory over evil or negativity and be courageous seek his blessings primarily on Tuesdays and Saturdays by visiting the temples in their vicinity. Tuesdays and Saturdays are the two days considered quite auspicious for worshipping of Shri Hanuman Dev. On these days, the Hanuman temples are thronged by devotees; however, on other days also, people do visit these temples to worship the deity.
Lord Hanuman’s various names: Lord Hanuman is prayed to and worshipped by many popular names, a few of which are Anjaneya (Mata Anjani’s son), Pavan Putra (son of the Wind God), Mahavira (most brave and valiant), Kesari Nandan (Vanar Raj Kesari’s dear son), Bajrang Bali (valiant and strong and shining like a beautiful diamond) and Sankat Mochan (destroyer of problems).
How devotees can spend Hanuman Jayanti this year: Devotees are advised to pray at home and chant the Hanuman Chalisa, also invoking this great God’s power, who is said to help his devotees in the Kaliyuga. Devotees can also chant the Hanumanashtakam and Bajrang Baan – both said to be very powerful and potent in warding off evil and negativity. You could also try chanting the 108 names of Lord Mahavira or read the Sunderkaand. In times such as these when people are stressed and strained because of the ongoing situation, chanting peacefully in their homes would help them through stressful times.
Worshippers visit famous temples in India during weekends or holidays to seek blessings as these temples are considered ancient having deep recognizance and religious importance for Hanuman worshippers. They also visit temples on Hanuman Jayanti to offer sindoor, paan leaves and oil to pay homage to the deity.
This year, however, due to the lockdown, the temples will be closed as well. In keeping with the spirit and, on this auspicious occasion, we bring to you the top seven Hanuman temples in India, which we hope you get a chance to visit and take darshan at in better times once the world is out of the health crisis it finds itself in:
- Salasar Balaji, Salasar, Rajasthan: Located in the Churu district of Rajasthan, Salasar, the Hanuman idol here has a face with a moustache and beard. It was established in the 1754 A.D., founded by Mohandas Maharaj.The temple is usually open from 4:00 am until 10:00 pm in the night and for 24 hours on Hanuman Jayanti. However, this year, due to the ongoing health crisis, none of the temples would be open on Hanuman Jayanti for darshan.The popular rituals at the temple are coconut tying with a red sacred thread with worshippers wishing for success, luck, health, and conception of child. In addition, people offer food up to 50 kgs to the Lord that is called as Savaman. On Ashvin Purnima or Chaitra Purnima (full moon nights), the temple organizes big fairs for the devotees to pay homage to Lord Hanuman.
- Sankat Mochan, Varanasi: Varanasi is a holy pilgrimage city of Banaras that houses many temples of Indian Gods and Goddesses. Sankat Mochan is located close to the river Assi and is believed to be constructed by Sri Goswami Tulsidas in the beginning of the 16th century. In this temple, Lord Hanuman is facing his Lord Rama, whom he worshipped selflessly and with great devotion.Here, the offering to God is a popular Indian sweet – besan laddoo. On Hanuman Jayanti and full moon nights of the months of Chaitra, that is from March to April, people are seen wearing Hanuman masks to celebrate the days with excitement and vivaciousness. The temple’s usual opening timings are throughout the day on Tuesdays and Saturdays while, on other days, it opens from 5:00 am to 1:00 pm and reopens at 3:00 pm till 11:00 pm.
- Jakhoo Temple, Himachal Pradesh: Situated on the Jakhoo Hill, in Simla, Himachal Pradesh, the temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman and is believed to be established in the times of Shri Ramayana. The temple is surrounded by colonies of monkeys who do not bother visitors at all. However, it is advisable to not carry lots of things like cameras or bags with food as they may come and snatch it from the hands. The statue of Hanuman here is quite tall and happens to be one of the tallest Hanuman statues in the world. People can reach the temple via roads or via aerial ropeway in just about six minutes. The temple is open throughout the week from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm.
- Shri Hanuman Temple, New Delhi: Located on the Baba Kharak Singh Marg, in central Delhi at Cannaught Place, this Hanuman Temple dates back to the times of Mahabharata. It is said that the Pandavas, upon winning the Kurukshetra war, built five temples and this temple was one of them. Here, the face of the idol is of a child Hanuman and is facing the South. The temple timings on Tuesdays and Saturdays are from 5:00 am to 11:00 pm, however, on the rest of the days, the temple remains closed from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Here, people sometimes take up to 108 rounds of the Lord Hanuman idols inside the temple to pay homage to the deity.
- Shri Bala Hanuman Mandir, Jamnagar, Gujarat: This temple has been listed in the Guinness Book of Records for the continuous chanting of Jai Ram , Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram, called as Ram dhun since 1st August 1964. Worshippers visit this temple to experience this amazing devotion and can also be a part of it, especially during the nights. The temple was established in the year 1963 A.D. The puja or darshan timings are from 6 am to 12 pm and 4:30 pm to 10 pm.
- Mahavir Temple, Patna: This temple of Lord Hanuman also attracts pilgrims from all over the world, especially on Ram Navmi and Hanuman Jayanti. The temple has two idols of the Lord Hanuman with golden crowns and the significance of the two idols is that one provides protection and the other punishes the evil people. The temple organizes a big celebration on Ram Navami every year, the day Lord Rama was born. The temple is open from 5:00 am to 10:30 pm.
- Hanuman Garhi, Ayodhya: It has been believed that Lord Hanuman stayed here to protect Ayodhya, which makes this temple a place of deep religious significance. The temple is located only 1 km from the Ayodhya Railway Station. Here, the idol of Shri Hanuman is of a young one, who is sitting in the lap of his mother, Mata Anjani. A lot of people visit the temple for the fulfilment of their wishes as it is believed that those visiting the temple and wishing with true devotion realise their wishes. The usual timings of worshipping are between 5:00 am to 10:00 pm.
This article has valuable inputs from Arunima and Neha.