Ravidass Jayanti, which falls on January 31, marks the birthday of Guru Ravidass, a 14th century saint and reformer of the Bhakti movement in North India. Ravidass Jayanti is celebrated on Magh Purnima, the full moon day in the month of Magh according to the Hindu lunar calendar. This year marks the 641st birthday of the saint.
While the life details of Ravidass are uncertain, most scholars believe he was born in 1450 AD in Varanasi and died in 1520. On the day, people who follow the Ravidassia religion take out a Nagar Kirtan procession with the saint’s portrait while chanting special prayers.
On Ravidass Jayanti, lakhs of people also converge at Shri Guru Ravidas Janam Asthan Mandir, Seer Goverdhanpur in Varanasi, where celebrations are held on a grand scale and his image is worshipped. Devotees take a holy dip in the Ganga before performing any rites and read holy scriptures.
Guru Ravidass, the son of a cobbler, gained prominence due to his belief in one God and his unbiased religious poems. His devotional songs made an instant impact on the Bhakti Movement and around 41 of his poems were included in ‘Adi Granth’ or ‘Guru Granth Sahib’, the religious text of the Sikhs. Ravidas dedicated his whole life for the abolition of the caste system and openly despised the notion of a Brahminical society (where Brahmins are seen as superior beings).