Hanuman, also known as Hanumat and Pavan-Sut, is one of the most popular deities amongst Hindus and is seen in temples throughout India. His picture, often with Rama and Sita, can be found in almost every Hindu home. He is considered to be the god of power and strength and as such is the most favored deity of wrestlers and especially venerated by princes and warriors; Tuesday is his sacred day of worship. In Nepal, his images are usually covered with a thick vermillion mixed with mustard oil and often dressed in a red cloth with a red or golden umbrella over his head.
Hanuman is the son of Vayu, the lord of
winds, and Anjana, his consort. He is described in the Ramayan, the
Mahabharat and Agni Puran as having a short thick neck, a round
monkey-face as red as a ruby, yellow skin glowing like moltan gold,
sharp white fangs, a mane like flowers, a tail like a banner of
interminable length, and the ability to expand until he is as large as
a mountain or to contract until he is as small as a fly. He has a roar
like thunder, leaps into the air and flies among the clouds with a
Hanuman remained celibate his entire life and is
known as the greatest devotee of the god Rama, who loved him the best.
His devotion to Rama and Sita was so great that once he tore open his
chest with his claws to show that images of Rama and his wife were
engraved upon his heart. He is famous for helping Rama destroy Ravana,
the ten-headed demon king, and for organizing the building of a bridge
from India to Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
There are many interesting
myths surrounding this god. When quite young, he saw the rising sun and
thought it to be a ripe fruit. He therefore jumped up to it and put the
sun in his mouth. The other gods and goddesses feared that the world
would perish without the sun and prevailed upon him to spit it out.
When Hanuman was only ten years old he could lift the hills twenty
miles in circumference and throw these about as if they were stones.