Why Do Indian Worship Monkeys? You Can Only Know If You read This - You will Shocked! • illuminaija
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Why Do Indian Worship Monkeys? You Can Only Know If You read This – You will Shocked!

   
   

Why Do Indian Worship Monkeys? You Can Only Know If You read This – You will Shocked!

The Swayambhunath temple, located in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, is popularly called the ‘Monkey Temple’, because the monkeys here are considered to be sacred. Legend states that, when Bodhisatva Manjushree was in the process of raising the temple hill, the lice from his hair got converted into monkeys. Hanuman, the monkey god, a devotee of Lord Rama, is one of the important characters in the mythological story of Ramayana.

A devotee dressed as the monkey god Lord Hanuman participates in a religious procession in Amritsar, northwestern India, on O ct 22 last year. The deity, generally depicted with a muscular human body, the red face of a monkey and a long tail, is a central character in the ancient Hindu epic, Ramayana. 

Before getting on with his daily routine, former Indian wrestler Jagadish Kaliraman, a devout Hindu, makes it a point to ask for the blessings of Lord Hanuman, a popular monkey deity in the country.

For the 40-year-old New Delhi wrestling coach, who has represented India many times in the past in his sport, the god is “a source of strength”.

“I shout the name of the deity every time I put my foot on the wrestling mat, even if it is a practice session, as it gives me strength to take on the opponents,” Kaliraman said.

Like the Chinese, many generations of Hindu Indians have been worshiping the monkey deity, which has hundreds of dedicated temples all over the country. In India, Hindus make up 80 percent of the population.

As Lord Hanuman is known for his extraordinary daring feats and strength, the monkey deity is particularly popular among wrestlers, weightlifters and bodybuilders.

“We deal in a sport that needs enormous strength and energy,” Kaliraman said, adding that his father, also a celebrated wrestler, worshipped Lord Hanuman.

The Monkey King, also called Sun Wukong, is the main character in the classical Chinese novel Journey to the West. In the 17th century tale, he accompanies the monk Xuanzang to obtain Buddhist texts from India.

   
   

“There may be different views on the origination of the monkey deity and monkey worship, but the point is, it shows a great deal of cultural affinity and interaction between the two great Asian civilizations in the past,” BR Deepak, head of the Centre for Chinese and Southeast Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, told China Daily Asia Weekly.

“India and China have had trade relations in the past, so the myth of a monkey god might have also been exchanged between the two regions.”

In India, Lord Hanuman is generally depicted with a muscular human body, the red face of a monkey and a long tail. This part-human, part-monkey deity is a central character in the ancient sacred poem, the Ramayana.

The Ramayana describes him as an ardent devotee of Lord Ram, another Hindu god. According to the epic poem, Lord Hanuman and his army of monkeys help Lord Ram in his battle against Ravana, the Lankan demon king who kidnaps his wife Sita.

According to legend, Lord Hanuman could enlarge his body at will, fly across the ocean and even carry a mountain on his palm. The legend goes that he flew to the Himalayas and returned with a mountain full of medicinal herbs to restore the wounded in Lord Ram’s army.

“Because of his bravery, perseverance, strength and devoted service, Lord Hanuman is regarded as a perfect symbol of selflessness and loyalty,” said RK Hooda, vice-president of the Wrestling Federation of India.

Why Do Indian Worship Monkeys? You Can Only Know If You read This – You will Shocked!

And followers believe that worshipping the monkey god will liberate them from fear and danger.

It is not only Hindus that take comfort from the deity. US President Barack Obama revealed in a recent interview that he carries a figurine of Lord Hanuman, among other small totems given to him by supporters, in his pocket.

“If I feel tired, or I feel discouraged sometimes, I can reach into my pocket and say yeah, that’s something I can overcome, because somebody gave me the privilege to work on these issues that are going to affect them,” Obama said.

In India, as part of their belief, devotees clean the monkey god’s shrine every day.

Hooda, who is also a devotee, explained the processes: “Old flower garlands and stubs of incense are removed and the image of Lord Hanuman is bathed with fresh water. Vermilion and ocher paste are prepared and the whole image of Hanuman is painted so that it radiates with a red-orange brilliance.”

Tuesday and Saturday are considered auspicious for Lord Hanuman, so temples are busy with devotees on those days. During the festival of Hanuman Jayanti, held every year during the full moon day that falls between March and April, temples across the country organize colorful processions where devotees dress up like the monkey god to celebrate his birthday.

Also, Hindus believe that feeding monkeys brings them blessings, so it is common to see people feeding wild monkeys near Lord Hanuman temples.

A 53-meter statue of Lord Hanuman is currently being constructed in the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh, which will be the tallest idol in the country. The second tallest statue is around 41 meters and is situated in the same province. In the capital city, a 33-meter statue is a popular tourist attraction.

Why Do Indian Worship Monkeys? You Can Only Know If You read This – You will Shocked!

As per the Hindu tradition, women are not allowed to touch the idols. “They are allowed to enter the temple and pray but they cannot touch the idol as he was considered a bachelor,” said Hooda.

Hinduism is often labeled as a religion of 330 million gods, and most of the deities symbolize some particular aspect of life.

“Hindus have represented God in innumerable forms,” said Sebastian Velassery, a professor of Indian philosophy at Panjab University, in Chandigarh, northern India.

“Each is a symbol that points to something in life. They are different aspects of one reality that are symbolized by the many deities.”

Animal worship is part of Hindu ethos and culture, explained Velassery, who has written many books on the subject. “It is a symbol for various concepts,” he added. “Not only animals are sacred in India — rivers, sacred trees, land and birds are also worshipped.”

For instance, the cow is the holiest animal in the country, and its slaughter is banned in most of India. The worship of serpent gods is present in several ancient traditions in the country. Nag Panchami, the festival of snakes, is an important event when people offer milk to snakes on the occasion.

Likewise, the elephant-headed deity, Lord Ganesh, is worshiped in the country for receiving wealth. In the southern state of Kerala, many major temples own elephants.

   
   

“This blend of human and animal parts is a symbolic representation of a perfect human being, as conceived by Hindu sages. His head symbolizes wisdom, understanding and a discriminating intellect that one must possess to attain perfection in life,” Velassery said.

Lord Hanuman represents the unlimited power that lies unused within each one of us, he added.

“Though monkeys do a lot of mischief, the monkey deity exemplifies devotion. His image is friendship and total loyalty, which makes the monkey a beloved figure across India.”

   
   

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