Call Him by any name – Bajrangabali, Pawanputra, Mahavir, SankatMochan, Anjaneya or Maruti – Lord Hanuman signifies divine strength and devotion that we all carry within. This day – Hanuman Jayanti – is celebrated as his birthday which falls on the 15th day of the Shukla Paksha in the Hindu month of Chaitra.
Legend and Significance
Lord Hanuman’s various names all signify his myriad qualities and has legends associated with them.
- As Sankat Mochan he is known to rid his devotees of all suffering and hardships. During the battle with Ravan to get back Goddess Sita, Lakshman, Lord Ram’s brother was struck down. Lord Hanuman went in search of the Sanjeevani buti. Since he could not recognise the herb, he uprooted the entire mountain and brought it back for healing Lakshman back to life. This signifies that he can move mountains to alleviate the problems of his devotees.
- As Bajrangabali, Balibhima, Mahakaya, Mahavir, and Mahabali he is the ishta devta (most adored God) of wrestlers and bodybuilders. All these names refer to his gigantic form and immense strength.
- As Pawanputra, Pavanasuta, Maruti (son of Marut – Vayu Dev), and Vayuputra, he signifies the power of wind. It is said that as a young child, he once flew up to the Sun and swallowed it whole.
- As Ram Doota, he is the Lord Ram’s messenger who brought the messages to Goddess Sita when she was Ravan’s prisoner in Lanka.
- As Anjaneya, Anjaniputra, Kesari Nandan he is the son of Anjani and Kesari.
- As Kapeeshwara, he is the lord of the vaanarsena – the army of monkeys that helped Lord Ram in the battle.
- As Panchavaktra, he is depicted with five faces, signifying his control over all five senses.
- As Mukhya Prana Devaru, he is the Primordial Life Giver. This comes from the legend that he was the 11th manifestation of Lord Shiva (hence also sometimes referred to as Rudra).
Another interesting aspect of Lord Hanuman is that he is always covered in vermilion. Legend goes that he used to observe Goddess Sita everyday apply the vermilion on her forehead (a mark of married women in Hinduism). One day he asked her why she did this, to which Goddess Sita mentioned that the sindoor was to ensure a long life for Lord Ram. Lord Hanuman then smeared his entire body with the orange sindoor to ensure that Lord Ram remained immortal, signifying his devotion.
In Vedic traditions, it is said that if one wishes for Lord Ram’s blessings, the quickest way to reach him is through Lord Hanuman. On this day, devotees gather at the temple to worship the deity and distribute food. Garlands made of roses and tulsi are offered and devotees chant the mool-mantra along with the Hanuman Chalisa (ideally 11 times). Diyas with ghee are lit at the altar and the idols of Lord Hanuman are given a mustard oil abhishek.
The following mool-mantra is recited during the pooja:
लाल देहि लाली लसे, अरू धारी लाल लंगूर ।
वाजरा देह दानव दलान, जय जय जय कापि सुर ।
मनोजवं मारुततुल्यवेगं जितेन्द्रियं बुद्धिमतां वरिष्ठ ।
वातात्मजं वानरयूथमुख्यं श्रीरामदूतं शरणं प्रपद्ये ।
There are numerous versions of the Hanuman Chalisa available online but the one I listen to the most is from Durga Das. This playlist has the Chalisa 11 times in its entirety.