Lucknow’s tryst with Hanuman remains intact despite unbearable summer heat. Pawan Putra lovers still line up for one small glimpse of the Monkey Lord on Bada Mangal. This year the auspicious day falls on May 23.
Hanuman and I go back a long way. One of my first bylines that I got in the prestigious Hindustan Times was on Hanuman. While Lucknow is celebrating the month of Jyesth in ode to the monkey king Hanuman, a dedication to Hanuman, the Pawan Putra we all know and how Lucknow or Awadh has its theories on how Bada Mangal came into existence.
Even before Superman came into the scene there was one god that we as Indians know had the ability to fly without wings. He was none other than the Monkey Lord Hanuman. If Ganesh is revered as the Vigna Harta in India then Hanuman too is considered as the Sankat Mochan who would help people in their hour of need. Many a times I myself have felt the urge to stand in front of him and pray for better times. Today in comparatively better times he is not only a source of strength but also makes me right this blog.
Hanuman is a Hindu god who is an ardent devotee of Rama. A central character in the Indian epic Ramayana and its various versions. He is mentioned in several other texts, including Mahabharata, the various Puranas and some Jain texts. A vanara, Hanuman participated in Rama’s war against the demon king Ravana. Several texts also present him as an incarnation of Lord Shiva. He is the son of Anjana and Kesari, and is also described as the son of Vayu, who according to several stories, played a role in his birth.
In the Jyesth month, every Tuesday Hanuman’s day is celebrated, and over the years it has turned into a feast for natives of Lucknow and adjoining districts. What started off as poori sabji and some coolers in the summer, now the menu has become even more interesting. More than 5,000 kiosks set up in every nook and corner of the city offer a lavish spread ranging from poori-sabzi, chola bhatura, kadi-chawal, Chhola Chawal, Boondi, ice cream to laddoos, coldrinks, juices, halwa and kheer.
Despite strong heatwave in the city scores of people enjoy prasad and worship on Bada mangal. Hanuman worshippers in large numbers every Tuesday this month in Lucknow throng temples. In a sign of amity and brotherhood both Hindus and Muslims come out on the streets to celebrate Hanuman’s existence. The echoes of Hanuman Chalisa, reverberating of Sundarkand paaths start from the very early morning. Some come walking several miles barefoot while others roll over on roads to reach temples for a sighting of their favourite deity.
Purana Hanuman Mandir in Aliganj is one of the finest examples of communal harmony of Awadh as it has a crescent over its dome which symbolizes the Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb of Lucknow.
The festival coincides with the months of May or June in the Gregorian Calendar
All major temples in the city – Dakshinmukhi Hanuman temple in Hazratganj, Purana and Naya Mandir in Aliganj, Chachi Kuan temple in Lal Kuan , Hanuman Setu temple and the Khatu Shyamji temple on the university road are decked up with flowers and lights.
Century old traditional fairs are organised around Hanuman temples, the idol is embellished with vermillion, chameli oil, scent and flowers. A special 51-kg besan ka laddu is prepared at the Aminabad Hanuman Temple.
Police make elaborate arrangements, including diverting traffic at various places. With temperatures soaring, voluntary organisations set up water and cold drink kiosks for devotees.
Cost of bhandaras ranges from Rs 35,000 to Rs 3 lakh
Visitors at Hanuman setu included, Governor, Mayor, Rajnath Singh’s wife
Children if the rich and the wellknown are often seen distributing food among devotees at the temple
Priests say that the festivities start with the traditional chola being offered to the God.
With the advent of technology, live darshan through webcam is also being done at some temples.
Not many rituals are associated with the festival but writing letters to Lord Hanuman is still popular. The priests still follow the age old tradition of reading out the letters in front of the deity, at night.
The interesting part of the festival is how Lucknow got its Bada Mangal. There are very interesting stories to the inception of the festival.
First of the stories is about a plague in the city of Lucknow. Asaf ud daullah, the then Nawab wished for the well being of the people from the Monkey King. The Nawab from then on declared the first Tuesday of Jeshtha to be celebrated as regard to Lord Hanuman.
The second story goes that when Lord Hanuman had gone to get Sanjeevani booti for Lakshman, he was by mistake shot at by Bharat and he fell on the ground in Lakshmanpur now Lucknow. Since then the festival is marked and celebrated in the city.
The most prominent of theories that has made its way to books and reports is the one revolving around Begum Janab-e-Alia’s triumph. The celebration of Bada Mangal is associated to Begum Janab-e-Alia, the second wife of Nawab Shuja-ud-Duallah who had no children. A firm believer of Hanuman she built a temple of the deity. Soon after she was blessed with a child and declared this festival.