Today is Ramnavami and Ramnavami is celebrated by the Hindus to commemorate the birth of Lord Rama, who is believed to be one of the ten incarnations (Dashavatara) of Lord Vishnu. According to Hindu calendar, the festival is observed on Shukla Navami (the ninth day of waxing moon period) of Chaitra (March-April).
Unlike other regions where Ramnavami festival is celebrated for a day, it is observed in Jharkhand for a full month — beginning on the Shukla Navami of Falgun and concludes nearly 30 days later on the day of Ramnavami, the Shukla Navami of Chaitra month when devotees of Lord Rama and Hanuman comes out on the streets in groups chanting and dancing to bhajans, wielding traditional weapons and lathis (sticks). Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand state, turns into a saffron city on the occasion of Ramnavami.
Thousands of youths religiously spend time in akharas (traditional gym) before the Ramnavami to practice and perfect maneuvers with their preferred weapon. Choices range from shiny steel swords to spears, khukris, knives, pharsa (axes), gupti (rapier) and even the Lathi (stick). The moves are practised to the thumping beats of huge drums called Nagaras and Tashas — traditionally used to herald the arrival of an army for war. It’s said that it symbolizes Lord Ram’s exemplary prowess in handling the divine weapons made in sage Agastya’s Agnishaala and other man-made weapons.
Huge processions are taken out by hundreds of participants, divided into small and big groups, led by marching troupes of devotees holding aloft in their hands huge colourful flags with beautiful pictures of Lord Hanuman in flying posture, hooked up on top of tall and dry bamboos, playing drums, bugles and nagaras, in ecstacy, at deafening pitch or staging mock war-like dances in the background of high beats of drums.
The city’s akharas take out processions starting after 3 pm and the festive fervour continues into the night. All the holy processions march from different places in the city to the Tapovan Mandir in Niwaranpur, where devotees pay obeisance and return to their homes. Power supply remains disconnected in the city from 2 pm to prevent any possibility of electrocution, considering the devotees carry large flags that may come in contact overhead electric wires.
Similar processions and festivities are also carried out in other nearby Jharkhand towns like Jamshedpur, Hazaribagh, Bokaro, Gumla. By popular tradition, all the dancing devotees in these towns also carry sharp lethal weapons in their hands while staging the dance at several places enroute from Hanuman temples to Ram temples.
Though there is no sociological research available to explain this phenomenon, as per folklore, Lord Hanuman was born in a cave near Anjan Gram in Gumla district. Anjan Gram is a small village about 18 km away from Gumla and around 130 km from Ranchi. Goddess Anjani was the mother of Lord Hanuman on whose name this place was named Anjan Gram. Anjani Gufa (cave) is at 4 km from the village upon a hill. It’s believed that mother Anjani used to live here. There is an idol of Mother Anjani with Hanuman in her lap near Anjani Gufa. It is known as the birth place of Mahaveer Hanuman.
This idol of Goddess Anjani dates back to the ancient times. Many objects of archeological importance obtained from this place are placed at Patna museum.
The Anjan Gram has a lot of religious significance and at the same time, offers a great deal of scenic beauty. This place is bounded by the plateau of Netarhat from three sides and Khatwa River. Many Shivlingas are seen over here. It’s said that there were 365 Shivlangas here and the same number of ponds. As per the folklore, Mother Anjani used to take bath in these ponds and pray at the nearby Shivlingas. Now just around a dozen can be seen.
Ram Lakshman Janaki
Jai bolo Hanuman ki!