Valmiki Jayanti celebrates the birth anniversary of the first poet of Sanskrit literature Maharishi Valmiki. According to the Hindu calendar, the date falls on a full moon night (Purnima) during the month of Ashwin, which as per the Georgian calendar corresponds to the months of September-October. This year Valmiki Jayanti will be observed on October 5.
Valmiki is a revered poet and the author of the epic Ramayana. The original texts written by the sage consists of 24,000 shlokas and 7 cantos (kaṇḍas) including Uttara Kanda. It is believed that during Rama’s exile period, he met Valmiki and made him his contemporary. Moreover, when Rama banished Sita, it was Valmiki who came to her rescue and provided her shelter and care. It was in his hermitage that the children of Rama; Lava and Kusha were born. This day is also referred as Pragat Diwas and is celebrated by the Valmiki religious group. India is home to several Valmiki temples but the most prominent one is perhaps the one in Chennai. Tiruvanmiyur is believed to derive its name from Sage Valmiki, Thiru-Valmiki-Oor and it is here that a temple of Valmiki, which is believed to be 1300 years old, is located.
On Valmiki Jayanti, people pay their respects towards the renowned poet by parading portraits of Valmiki, which are typically depicted as a monk wearing saffron-coloured robes and holding a quill and paper. The processions is called Shobha Yatra and is taken thorough the main streets of Valmiki locality, accompanied by street devotional singing.