Guru Ravidass Jayanti, the holiday which all of us vertos were enjoying on January 31, marks the birthday of Guru Ravidas. Although the name may not strike the minds of everyone, however majority of North Indians and especially Punjabis are well accustomed to it. Guru Ravidass who was a 14th-century saint was considered as a renowned reformer of the Bhakti movement in North India. Ravidass Jayanti is celebrated on the full moon day i.e. “Magh Purnima”, in the month of Magh(January-February) according to the Hindu lunar calendar. This year marks the 641st birthday of the saint.

Guru Ravidass origins are not well known, however, it has been claimed by numerous scholars and experts that he was born in 1450 AD in Varanasi. Guru Ravidass, who was born to a cobbler, attained recognition because of his staunch belief in a single God and his unbiased religious poems and couplets. His devotional songs had a major impact on the Bhakti Movement and around 41 of his poems were included in ‘Adi Granth’ or ‘Guru Granth Sahib’, the holiest scripture of the Sikhs. He preached of a system of equality and single superpower where no differences were made on basis of caste and religions.

On Ravidass Jayanti, the ceremonies include reading of the Amritbani Guru Ravidass Ji, changing of the “nishaan” in a ritualistic manner and there is a special aarti for the Guru. A procession in the name of Nagar Kirtan is taken out having the Guru’s portrait at the forefront with a band of musicians feeling up the religious environment. His devotees take a holy dip in the river to perform rites and indulge in various other rituals. Every year, a grand celebration is organized at Shri Guru Ravidass Janam Asthan Mandir, Seer Goverdhanpur, Varanasi to mark the occasion along with lakhs of devotees who come from all over the world to celebrate the occasion.

So next time, if anyone asks you why your university observed a holiday on January 31st, you don’t have to shy away from an answer. So I wish you all a very happy Guru Ravidass Jayanti.