Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday took to Twitter, wishing everyone on the occasion of Valmiki Jayanti. Sharing a video explaining the significance of the day, the PM said that Valmiki's ideals based on social harmony, equality and justice will "always inspire the people of India".
"I bow before Maharishi Valmiki and extend best wishes to all countrymen on this special occasion," Modi can be heard saying in the video.
For the uninitiated, Valmiki Jayanti is celebrated to mark the birth anniversary of the legendary sage who composed the Ramayana. The epic incidentally consists of 24,000 shlokas and 7 cantos (kandas). Legend has it that Valmiki had been a dacoit in his early life. Called Ratnakar at the time, he would rob people and kill them. It was Sage Narada Muni who helped the notorious dacoit turn his life around, becoming a devotee of Lord Rama. After performing severe penance for years, a divine voice bestowed him with the name Valmiki.
It is believed that when Rama banished Sita, Valmiki provided her shelter and care. In Valmiki’s heritage, Lava and Kusha were born. The exact era of his birth is difficult to define as it is said that during Rama’s exile period Valmiki made him his contemporary. He is believed to have lived around 500 BCE and the date of his birth anniversary is determined based on the lunar calendar. Valmiki Jayanti is celebrated on the Purnima night of the month of Ashwin, which falls on October 31 this year. The tithi begins at 5:45 PM and ends tomorrow at 8:18 pm.
Often called the Adi Kavi or the first poet to write in the Sanskrit language, Valmiki's birth is celebrated by many across India, especially by the followers of the Valmiki religious sect. The occasion is also called Pargat Diwas. Festivities include the singing of devotional songs and processions that showcase portraits of the sage.