Sunday 3 March 2013

The bearded Hanuman

The Hanuman here is round faced and he has a beard and moustache too. He is not called Hanuman but Balaji, which generally means Srinivasa or Venkataramana.
The temple to Hanuman too is known not by his name but as Balaji. The temple has some unique customs that is not found anywhere else.
This is perhaps the only temple where food is offered to the deity in kilograms and this ritual is called Savamani. The word Sava means one and a quarter and Mun means Maund and this is a unit of mass measuring 40 kilograms. Thus, Savamani means 50 kgs and this quantity of food is offered to Hanuman.
The food is generally prepared by the temple cooks and we have to intimate the temple authorities before hand about the Savamani. The Savamani is prepared in the temple kitchen but in recent years, the heavy demand has led the temple authorities to outsource it.
So we, have several caterers and shop keepers in and around the temple offering Savamani to pilgrims. Food items like Boondi, Ladu, Peda, Baati, Dal, Churma are generally prepared as Savamani.
After the Savamani is offered to Hanuman, it is later used by the family which organized it.    
Another widespread ritual is the tying of coconuts with moli (sacred red threads) in the temple premises. Devottes believe that Hanuman would fulfill their wishes if this is done with devotion and faith. This practice originated by from the Jagirdar of Sikar,  Rao Raja Devi Singh.
The Jagirdar did not have a son. He heard about the Balaji temple and he came here, tied a coconut on a tree and went back. Ten months later, he was blessed with a son, Rao Raja Laxman Singh.
This unique temple is called the Salasar Balaji or the Salasar Dham and it is located on highway no 65 near Sujangarh in Churu district of Rajasthan.
The presiding deity here is Hanuman who is better known as Balaji and his face is round unlike Hanuman in other temples.
Over the years, this temple has grown to become one of the most prominent pilgrim centres of Rajasthan. Salasar Balaji is on the religious circuit that includes the pilgrim centers of Rani Sati temple and the temple of Khatushyamji both of which are nearby.
Salasar Balaji is now considered to be a Shakti Sthal (a place of power) and the Hanuman as swayambhu (self creation).
Several miracles are ascribed to the deity.
The idol is worshipped by Brahmin priests from the Dadhich clan and the temple is managed and maintained by the Hanuman Sewa Samiti Trust.
The temple is open from 4 a.,m, to 10 p.m., and on Hanuman Jayanti it remain open throughout.
Salasar is situated on the Jaipur-Bikaner highway and it is 40 kms  from Ladnun,  57 kms from Sikar, 24 kms from Sujangarh and 30 kms  from Laxmangarh.
Salasar is about four hours drive from Jaipur.

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