The Largest Hanuman Statue in Chatsworth, Durban and the Hanuman Prayer

The suburb of Chatsworth in Durban is home to a majority Indian population. To accommodate their culture and rich heritage, they have set up landmarks which have now become popular tourist attractions. From the time they settled in Durban, they have created their own modes of adaptation, mainly the formation of temples to revive their religious beliefs and traditions.

Hindus believe in various deities, each with their own mythology that has been carried over from generation to generation. The largest Hanuman deity statue or murthy was built at the Shri Vishnu Temple in Chatsworth to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the indentured labourers in Durban. It was unveiled in November 2011 at a mass gathering held at the temple. The Hanuman statue is massive and overlooks the suburb of Chatsworth, it is a colourful statue portraying the monkey god. It is 13m tall and was a project initiated by the temple. The statue was sculpted by a local resident. The project cost almost R1,35 million which was funded from local businesses and the community. The unveiling took place at the temple with people from different religions and suburbs attending. There were also prayers and bhajans which are holy hymns played on the day of the unveiling. The Hanuman jhunda or red flag or pole can be found next to the statue.

Who is Hanuman?

Hanuman is a Hindu saint in legend, who later became a deity worshipped by the majority of Hindus. He is popularly known as the monkey god, as his face takes on the form of a monkey and he has a tail. He is prayed to for strength and courage to attain victory in one’s life. In Hindu mythology Hanuman and in the holy books as the Ramayana, he is the loyal servant and worshipper of Lord Rama but due to his powers, he became worshipped as a deity.

When the Indian indentured labourers came to Durban, they erected a flag or jhunda in their homes to worship Shri Hanuman. He used a red flag to lead his troops at a the battlefields with the war against demons in which he attained victory and to show he was a commander and Lord Rama who is the Ruler of the universe. The flag hoisting is an old tradition to Hindus. Hanuman is a symbol of victory and strength.

The jhunda or flag ceremony is performed by many of Hanuman’s devotees. In their glorification of Hanuman, it can also be performed at home or at a temple. The jhunda or bamboo is a symbol of Hanuman, it is basically a red flag that denotes the virtues of Hinduism and victory. Many Hindus observe a fast for Lord Hanuman on Tuesdays and pray at the jhunda with offerings of fruit, milk and a special treat referred to as a rote. It is a sweet pastry treat that should be made under cleanliness and usually not by women who are menstruating as – in Hindu tradition –
menstruating women are regarded as unclean. Traditionally women were also not allowed to sit at the jhunda as Hanuman was celibate, but in modern days in Durban many women partake in these prayers. In Durban, there are numerous Hindu households who has a jhunda erected in their yard. They are replaced annually during the jhunda Prayer or ceremony.

Zulu Summary: Umfanekiso Omkhulu KaHanuman Nemithandazo Yakhe eChatsworth

Indawo yaseChatsworth yindawo ehlala amaNdiya. Iningi lamaNdiya lisalandela amasiko awo ngokwezenkolo njengamaHindu. Lomfanekiso kaHanuman ungomkhulukazi kulendawo owambulwa ngoba kubungazwa iminyaka engu 150 okufika kwamaNdiya eNingizimu Afrika. AmaHindu akholelwa kakhulu konkulunkulu bawo abahlukene. Imizi eminingi yamaHindu ibonakala ngamaflegi abomvu abizwa ngokuthi i-jhunda agxunyekwa emagcekeni. Lomfanekiso wakhiwe ethempelini i-Shri Vishnu. Ubude balomfanekiso bungamamitha angu 13, wakhiwe ngumuntu wendawo. Ukuze lomgubho ube yimpumelelo abantu bendawo nosomabhizinisi bafaka imali. Ngosuku lomcimbi kwakuculwa kuthandazwa. Eduze nalomfanekiso kugxunyekwe iflegi. UHanuman wayengumsizi wenkosi Rama kodwa ngenxa yamandla ayenawo wagcina naye esekhonzwa. Ubuye aziwe njengonkulunkulu oyinkawu ngenxa yokubukeka kwakhe.

Yoveshnie Pillay

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