15 April 2014

Festivals of India - Hanuman Jayanti




Hanuman Jayanti

Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated every year by the people in India to commemorate the birth of Hindu Lord, Hanuman. It is celebrated annually in the Hindi month of Chaitra (Chaitra Pournima) on 15th day of the Shukla Paksha. Hanuman Jayanti 2014 is being celebrated by the people all over India today on 15th of April.  Here is a special article on Bazar Cards featuring Lord Hanuman by noted philatelist and author Mr Naresh Agarwal .



By By Naresh Agarwal


India 1906 Advert Bazaar Card shows Hanuman God carrying a mountain


Stamps are considered as mirror of art, culture, history, religion, mythology and other aspects of any country or society but it is not only stamps but other postal material and stationery also shares their part for the same purpose. Various philatelic materials depict and project various such aspects through the quotes, slogan, text or pictorial advertisements, vignettes printed on them and also through cancellations, labels and private text and sketches drawn / written on them.

British India period around the start of 20th centaury saw a great revolution in changing trends of postal cards which were in immense use during that period. Postal cards gave new direction to postal culture and gave new dimensions to the utility of this mode of postal communication for various social, religious, business promotional and propaganda activities. Apart from those which had pre paid printed stamps issued by postal administration, that period saw a new culture of substantial use of private printed postal cards. Such post cards were developed mainly by the merchants of major cities of all over India who advertised their products or business through text or pictorial matters printed on the either side of the post cards or postal covers which used postal stamps affixed on them for payment of postage.



India 1905 Bazar Picture Postcard -Hanuman GOD

1900-30 "Bazaar" cards and covers were in fact illustrated advertising postcards and envelopes from various merchants in larger cities (Bombay, Delhi, Madras, Poona City, etc) promoting their products. These private printed post cards also showed printing of various pictures/ glimpse of various religions of India which were either printed by individual merchants / traders giving specific quotes and pictures or were also available in market with some standard pictorial printing done on either side of the cards. Such private printed post cards which were also on common sale in the market for usage even by non- merchants. Because those cards were mainly used by the merchants of bazaars of India for their business transactions and communication; the cards were known as bazaar cards.


Lord ram and His wife Sita : British India Bazaar 1906 Postcard

Some of the cards had pictures of heroes of various mythological epics of India showing various deities, gods, scenes / images of the episodes of the epics. These cards certainly helped in promotion of religious awakening and enthusing religious spirits in India. One will certainly see a consideration of the relationship between Indian bazaar art shown on bazaar cards of that era and the formation of a modern, pan-Indian Hindu religious identity. It is seen that the popular, mechanically reproduced lithographs of Hindu mythological heroes have attracted more attention than they have so far received from scholars of religion.

While some scholars in other fields have written politically about these images but one should take seriously their religious genealogy and treat them as vernacular religious texts where these images act as sources of insight into the formation of a modern Hindu religious identity. It is assumed that there is such an entity as Hinduism that is “Sanatana Dharma”

A close study of such cards revealed that there was a huge variety of such cards which highlighted Hindu Mythology on them as one could see the glimpse of Heroes of Ramayana, Mahabharata, various Hindu deities and gods & scenes / images of various other epics on the pictures imprinted on the cards covering partial, half or in some cases full side of such the cards and covers. These prints were similar to business card or letterhead known as ‘Corner Card’. It usually included a return address. These Indian Bazaar Cards also falls in this category.


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Rama and his wife Sita, seated, with Rama's brother Lakshmana fanning them, and Hanuman, the Monkey God, kneeling in front of them. From the great Hindu epic, the Ramayana

Ramayana has been the main epic of Indian mythology and is followed by every Hindu. The main story of the Ramayana is about Lord Rama. In short the Ramayana is about Rama who was born in a royal family and was supposed to be the king, but because of his step- mother, he was forced to exile from his kingdom for fourteen years. During this period his consort Sita was kidnapped by a demon called Ravan, who was the king of Lanka. Rama with the help of his brother, Lakshman, and an army of monkeys under the leadership of Hanuman, rescued Sita.

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Valmiki wote Ramayan in Sanskrit Sant Tulsidas wote Ram Chritmanas

Ramayana was originally written by a sage Valmiki in the Sanskrit language and later on it was translated into other languages in different versions. Sant Tulsidas wrote Ram Chritmanas giving details of deeds of Ramayana in poetic form. The main story of the Ramayana is about Lord Rama. In short the Ramayana is about Rama who was born in a royal family and was supposed to be the king, but because of his step- mother, he was forced to exile from his kingdom for fourteen years.

But the Ramayana isn't only about Lord Rama and his attempt to rescue his consort Sita. Ramayana is also about devotion, loyalty, family roles and respect to elders.

The Ramayana does not begin with the life of Rama, but actually with the people on earth who suffered from the demon named Ravan, a cruel king who terrorizes the people of earth.


Ravana : The Villain had ten faces

Rama gets married to Sita. Sita is an adopted daughter of another king. In order to win her hand, he won the contest of bending a bow, which belonged to Lord Shiva.




King Dasrath intended to inherit his kingdom to his eldest son, Rama. But Sumitra another wife of Dashraths was provoked by her maid asks for exile of fourteen years in forests to Rama and her son Bharat to heir kingdom. King Dasrath who is in great dilemma and pain, eventually bows to her demands

Rama accepts his father's decision without any argument. He along with his wife moved out for exile. His brothers Lakshman also decides to join his brother in exile. They moved in to forests, crossed rivers..


Bazar card 1905 - Rama’s Exile : Ram and Laxman,Sita roamimng in forests.

They came across various demons. There in one forest,a female demon, Surpanakha fall in love with Rama and she tried to seduce him. Rama being a loyal husband refused to her flirts, so she tries to kill Sita. At this point Lakshman took his sword and cut the demon's nose. She went to her brother, Ravan, and told him of the disgrace that happened to her. Ravan decided to avenge this humiliation by kidnapping Rama's wife Sita. He even noticed that she is very beautiful and desired her.


Ramayana Boat Imag : India Indore State 1907 illustrated Bazar Card

To kidnap Sita, Ravan planted a beautiful deer near Rama’s hut in forest which Sita saw and urged Rama to get it. Rama ran after deer to get it. Later, Laxman also followed rama. And then, Ravna kidnapped Sita and flew to Lanka with her and placed her in a garden.



Ramayana Archery : Ram and Laxman chasing deer as requested by Sita Mata

Indore State 1906 illustrated Bazar card

When Rama returned, a vulture who had fought Ravna to rescue Sita, was found dying told them that Ravan kidnapped Sita. Rama and Lakshman decided to find out Sita.


Rama and Lakshman needed an army to find and fight Ravan and they got this help from the monkeys. The king of monkeys who was exiled by his brother got Rama's help to fight and slain his brother. After regaining his throne the monkey king assigned one of his commanders, Hanuman to serve Rama in his assignment to find Sita.


Lord Hanuman could fly: Flying over Rawana’s Sri lanka : Bazaar King Edward Postcard

After reaching Lanka, Hanuman met Ravan who did not offer Hanuman a chair to sit. Hence Hanuman created his own thorn by extending his tail long enough and then sitting in front of Ravana.



India Bazaar Card 1905 – Ramayana image : Ravana surprised as Hanuman sits on his elongated/extended coiled tail

Ravana was shocked to see this and called his demons to set Hanuman's tail on fire. When Hanuman went to Lanka Ravana's soldiers tied Hanuman's tail with rags fabrics and Hanuman made the tail longer and longer. The exhausted demons set fire to his tail.

Now it was Hanuman's turn he jumped all over Lanka setting the entire city ablaze with his tail still on fire.In the fight between Ram and Ravana to free Sita, Ravana made an assault on Ram Seeing this, Hanuman, roving his club, came close to Ravana. To show the might of Hanuman, he did not hit Ravana with his "Gada", the Club, but gave a big blow with his free hand. Ravana's entire body and his ten heads were terribly shaken.

Hanuman who was capable of flying, flown to Lanka and found Sita in Ravna’s garden guarded by female demons, in a depressed mood. He proved to her that he was Rama's messenger and offered to carry her back.But to vindicate her honor she preferred that Rama himself should rescue her. Hanuman promised that Rama would come and rescue her.


Lord Hanuman Ji reached Sri Lanka

India Gwalior State QV 3p on illustrated Bazar Card 1904

After Hanuman's return, Rama planned his way to reach Ravan's island. Rama and his advisers planned a bridge to Lanka in the sea with trees and rocks from forests and arrived Lanka and offered Ravna a peaceful solution but Ravna’s refusal set a war in which even Rama and Laxman got hurt. The monkeys also began to get weak because Ravan's forces use biological weapons, which weaken their senses. So a medical expert in Rama's forces claimed that to neutralize that a special herb named Sanjeevani booti was required which existed in a far away mountain, named Mahodaya (Dronagiri in Himalayas).


Hindu Deity Veer Hanuman :Checking Herbs to find Sanjeevani Booti


Hanuman flew to that mountain and found out that the mountain was full of different herbs, so he brought the whole mountain to Lanka. Slowly the forces got back to their senses.


Bazaar Card 1905 : Hanuman Ji carrying the Sanjeevni Parvat

Eventually after many battles Ravan faced Rama and after two continuos days of battles Rama kileds Ravan and visited Sita. But the Ramayana does not end here. The fact that Sita lived in another man's palace caused some rumors about her chastity. She was obliged to take a fire test in which she sat in a fire but came out unharmed and therefore was purified from charges.


Lord Rama with his brothers, wife and Sri Hanuman

India Indore State 1907 illustrated Bazar Card

In the original version of the Ramayana, after Rama and Sita returned to Ayodhya, the capital of Kosala the rumors about Sita's adultery in Ravan's captivity continued and therefore the people disrespected her. So Rama, who was now the king, decided to banish Sita from his kingdom. In the forests she met a sage named Valmiki, who later on wrote the Ramayana. In Valmiki's ashram Sita gave birth to two twins of Rama, Lav and Kush. Those two children learnt from Valmiki to sing the Ramayana as a poem and they went everywhere and started telling everyone the Ramayana, meaning Rama's story. They even arrived into Rama's court and told him his story and so Rama recognized his sons. He brought back his wife Sita who decided to prove her loyalty to Rama by asking Mother Earth to swallow her if she was loyal to Rama and so Mother Earth to testify her loyalty, opened up and swallowed her and Sita disappeared into earth. Later on Rama himself jumped in the river to end his life, followed by many.

- Naresh Agarwal : email : nareshkumar1992@yahoo.co.in


1 comment:

Yatisha Parashar said...

The more you think - you can know all about the India, the more strange cultures and festivals come into contact. Hinduism is really a very vast religion comprises of various different festivals. But I like Rakshabandhan the most as it is related to the unconditional true love and bondage between brother and sister.

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