The Uttar Pradesh government on Monday announced a public holiday on Tuesday, February 19, marking the ‘Magh Purnima’ and ‘Sant Ravidas Jayanti’ both of which have fallen on the same day. The order has been issued by Principal Secretary of Higher Education, Jitendra Kumar. While Magh Purnima marks the pavitra snan (holy bath) at Prayagraj Kumbh, Sant Ravidas Jayanti happens to be a restricted holiday.
As per the Hindu calendar, Magh Purnima is the last day of Magh Mass (month) and marks the beginning of Phalgun from the next day. This year, Magh Purnima date is February 19. It is a special day for Hindus; it is believed that taking a holy dip in Ganga on this day can purify a devotee.
Who was Guru Ravidas?
Today is also celebrated as Guru Ravidas Jayanti who was was the founder of the Ravidassia religion. People celebrate this day by reading the holy book Amritbani Guru Ravidass Ji. Some devotees also take a holy bath in Ganga to celebrate this anniversary.
Guru Ravidas Jayanti is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Guru Ravidas, a North Indian mystic poet of the bhakti movement. While the exact year of his birth is not known, it is believe that the saint was born in 1377 C.E. Guru Ravidas Jayanti is celebrated on Magh Purnima, which is the full moon day in the Hindu calendar month of Magha. On this day, Guru Ravidas’s followers hold special programmes that also see a recitation of kirtans. This year is said to be the 642nd birth anniversary of Guru Ravidas.
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Although there have been no concrete details, the saint was said to have been born in the village of Seer Goverdhanpur which is located near Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi. His birthplace has now been named Shri Guru Ravidas Janam Asthan and has become a major place of pilgrimage for the followers of Guru Ravidas. Notably, the he belonged to an untouchable caste and suffered a lot of atrocities as a result. however , the saint chose to focus on spiritual pursuits and also penned several devotional songs which made a huge impact in the Bhakti movement during the 14th to 16th century CE.
Guru Ravidas Teachings
Guru Ravidas spoke against the caste divisions and spoke of removing them to promote unity. The Adi Granth of Sikhs, in addition to the Panchvani are the two of the oldest documented sources of the literary works of Guru Ravidas. His teachings resonated with the people, leading to a religion being born called the Ravidassia religion, or Ravidassia Dharam based on his teachings. He taught about the omnipresence of God and said that a human soul is a particle of God and hence Ravidas rejected the idea that people considered lower caste cannot meet God. he said in his teachings that the only way to meet God was to free the mind from the duality.
On Guru Ravidas Jayanti, the Amritbani Guru Ravidass Ji is read aloud and devotees take a holy dip in rivers.
Tight security arrangements
Authorities and police in western Uttar Pradesh were on guard, particularly in Saharanpur, as locals celebrated Sant Ravidas Jayanti on Tuesday, reports have said. Many Dalit groups take out processions, passing through some sensitive parts of the area which could lead to a brawl even with slight provocation. The region has already seen many violent clashes between Dalit groups and people belonging to upper caste.