Today, many parts of India celebrate the birth of Hanuman…
In Uttara Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana, there is a chapter that relates the birth of Hanuman… The chapter begins with Sri Rama asking Agastya muni:
अतुलं बलमेतद्वै वालिनॊ रावणस्य च
न त्वेताभ्यां हनुमता समं त्विति मतिर्मम
शौर्यं दाक्ष्यं बलं धैर्यं प्राज्ञता नयसाधनम्
विकरमश्च प्रभावश्च हनूमति कृतालयाः
“Immeasurable was the strength of Vali or Ravana; but I think neither of them was the equal of Hanuman. Heroism, capability, strength, courage, sagacity, diplomatic astuteness, speed of onset and prowess – all these have taken residence in the person of Hanuman“.
Such is Rama’s assessment of Hanuman!
So, shall we travel to a little hamlet in Tamil Nad, where a new Hanuman is in the making?
This was on the day previous to Rama Navami. A friend invited me to join him to witness an idol-sculpting inauguration function at a place somewhere in the suburbs. We left at around 8 am. After a breakfast break on the way, we reached our destination around 10 am. This was somewhere in the Chengelpet region, some kms beyond Athur, Pazhayaseevaram etc. The setting was rural. Amidst the open lands, was a simple open-air kind of place, where a Stapathi (a traditional sculptor) had his workshop.
Here is the first view of a huge boulder, out of which the Hanuman idol was to be sculpted.
Notice the devotees sitting on top of the stone – performing ritual worship.
Walking around the plot, one finds a thatched area where some smaller idols are being sculpted.
Have a look…Work in progress…
One more picture of the huge rock from which an idol of Hanuman shall be carved out.
This idol is being made for a new temple that is to come up in Alangudi. This is the third of a series of Hanuman temples taken up by Ramani Anna, a great devotee of Hanuman. The first temple that he was instrumental in constructing is in Nanganallur, Chennai. This has a 32 feet Hanuman, Aadhi-Vyaadi-hara Aanjaneya. The second temple is in Pondicherry, Panchamukha Aanjaneya. And now the third one is being taken up.
Here is a top view of the raw-material rock… Notice the drawing of Hanuman…
A Yagya (homam / havan) is in progress… Poornahuti is offered…
After consecration of the sculpting instruments, Ramani Anna inaugurates the sculpting by chiseling the rock… You can see the Stapathi (the architect-sculptor who shall make the idol) standing in far right, hands folded…
After that, all the devotees assembled there are given the opportunity of taking part in the initial chiseling…
The Nanganallur Hanuman is around 32 feet in height, and the Pondicherry one is 36 feet (and the raw-material rock is said to have weighed 150 tons!). This one being made for Alangudi is along the same proportions. This will be a massive Hanuman. Opposite the Hanuman, there will be a smaller set of idols of Rama, Sita, and family… The stones for those idols are seen below…
So that was the inauguration of the sculpting of the sacred idol of Hanuman… For the proposed temple at Alangudi… Alangudi is one of the Navagraha kshetras, the Guru (Jupiter) Kshetra. The town also gave birth to a great sage known as Alangudi Periyava, who propagated Bhagavatam and Bhakti far and wide… And a year or two from now, a huge Hanuman shall grace the world there!
Happy Hanuman Jayanti