Hanuman Jayanti is a Hindu celebration that occurs every year on the fifteenth day of the Shukla Paksha during the month of Chaitra, although there are some that celebrate it on the fourteenth day of the month Ashvin. For some people, this day is also considered to be the New Year. The day itself commemorates the birth of the god Lord Hanuman, who is one of the most popular of all deities within the religion of Hinduism.
Lord Hanuman is a monkey god, and is particularly revered for his own worship of the Lord Rama. Lord Rama recognised this devotion, and in turn granted Lord Hanuman the gift of eternal life. Lord Hanuman is a symbol of strength and energy, and can appear in any form that he chooses. He is considered to be one of the most powerful of the Heaven people, the Land people, and the Hell people, making him an incredible entity to worship and pray to.
There are many stories and legends about Lord Hanuman. In one of them, he takes the advice of the goddess Sita and rubbed sindoor (a red paste) all over his body, as it brought long life. This is why images of Lord Hanuman are always red. In another, he is the embodiment of Lord Shiva, and this is why many people fast during Hanuman Jayanti, as an act of devotion and for greater strength and endurance in this life. After the fast follows an enormous vegetarian feast in his honor.
Throughout the world, thousands of temples that are dedicated to Lord Hanuman celebrated this day, and decorated with artificial flowers and accessories. Many colorful lights and ribbons were used to adorn the temples and make them beautiful in honor of the Lord Hanuman. In the Indian city of Ujjain, a palanquin procession occurred, accompanied by royal elephants! Other celebrations in the city included the parade of an idol of Lord Hanuman, along with many religious gatherings in the evening. The sacred text of Hanuman Chalisa was recited over the crowd, and through hearing the holy words, believers gain the strength to continue for the next year.
Young people in particular greatly enjoy Hanuman Jayanti, as they traditionally pin many of their religious ideals, hopes and dreams on the Lord Hanuman. They and many others may have even dressed up with monkey masks and tails!