Sri Shabari Jayanthi is celebrated in honour of Sri Shabari, the tribal woman devotee of Lord Sri Rama. The festival occurs on the Krishna Paksha Sapthami of Phalguna month.
Sri Shabari Jayanthi occurs on Friday, 5th March 2021. The festival is observed for the entire duration of the Saptami Tithi. The exact duration of the Tithi has to be ascertained from the applicable regional calendar.
Table of Contents
- Sri Shabari’s brief history
- Sri Shabari Dham
- Observation of the festival
Sri Shabari’s brief history
Sri Shabari – Origin
Sri Shabari was born in a hunter community. She was a tribal woman. As she had no relatives, she was an orphan as well.
She used to roam hither and thither. Whenever she felt hungry, she used to hunt the animals and eat. She did not know anything about civilized life. Till middle age, her life was in the wilds.
During her wanderings, she chanced upon a place which was quite beautiful. There were serenity and calmness in the atmosphere.
She saw the trees with fruits and other flora with blooming flowers. A mother deer was caressing its baby deer and the baby deer was fondly looking at its mother. There was love and kindness in the air.
The experience was totally novel to her.
She saw three Rishis coming into the vicinity. On her own volition, she folded her hands in Namaskaram. Her action was a surprise to herself. But the Rishis did not notice her.
Shabari takes up the work
Shabari had followed the Rishis. She took shelter in the Ashram. She used to wake up very early in the morning, clean the puja place and the pathways.
She plucked the fruits and flowers and kept them ready for puja. The Rishis were not aware of her presence. Unmindful, she kept doing all the chores in the Ashram with devotion.
The chief of the Rishis was Sage Matanga. He was surprised at the cleanliness in the surroundings. He asked his disciples as to who was responsible for all the noble work.
His disciples informed him of Shabari. He asked them to bring her to his presence. They brought her to him.
Offer of boon
Rishi Matanga was surprised and pleased to see her. He expressed his appreciation for her noble intentions. He asked her to seek any boon from him. She said that she only wanted to spend the rest of her life in the Ashram doing the service. The Rishi was pleased and granted her wishes.
Shabari continued to live at the Ashram doing all her chores. By observing the teachings of the Guru, she had even learnt the vedas. It is believed that she continued her life there till she turned 80.
Rishi Matanga’s parting boon
Rishi Matanga had realized that his days were nearing the end. He called all his disciples and offered them to ask for a boon each. Shabari’s turn came. Even at that time, Shabari refused to ask for any boon for herself.
The Sage was very touched with her devotion. He told her the Mantra “Rama”. She asked the meaning. He told her that she would learn the meaning from the Mantra itself when the person ascribed to the Mantra visited her.
He asked her to just keep uttering “Rama” all the time. Then the Rishi departed the world.
Shabari kept chanting ‘’Rama’’ all the time. As her Guru told her that Rama Himself would come to her, daily she expected to see him. She nearly waited for twelve years.
Sri Rama’s visit
Sri Rama was in the mission of searching for His wife Sita Devi. He and His brother Sri Lakshmana were enquiring about Sita Devi’s whereabouts. They chanced upon Shabari’s hut.
Shabari was elated and pleased. She had been waiting to have the darshan of Sri Rama for twelve years. As prophesied by her Guru, Sri Ram Himself came to her hut.
She earnestly wanted to serve food to her Guests. She had some fruits in the basket. But she was not sure whether they were of good quality.
To test the quality of the fruits, she nibbled a portion of each fruit and threw some away. She had identified some good fruits. But, alas, she found that even the good fruits were bitten by her. Apart from the fruits, she had nothing else to offer.
With lots of hesitation, she told Rama about the availability of only partially eaten fruits. Sri Rama told her to offer the same. Happily, she offered the fruits. He partook the same without any hesitation. Sri Rama had proved to the world that it was the thought and not the deed which mattered.
Sri Rama had gauged the right intention and affection of Shabari and he had accepted her hospitality as it was.
Sri Lakshmana’s realization
Sighting this, Sri Lakshmana realized that there are other people to shower unconditional love on Lord Rama apart from Himself. Sri Lakshmana was moved by the simple love and affection of Shabari and fell at her feet.
Sri Rama’s boon to Shabari
Pleased with Shabari’s hospitality, Sri Rama asked her to seek any boon from Him. She replied that She was waiting to have His darshan and having had it, She wished to attain moksha and join Her Guru. Sri Rama granted the same.
She also guided them to contact Sugreeva to get help in searching for Sri Sita Devi.
Sri Shabari Dham
The temple dedicated for Sri Shabari is situated near Surat, Gujarat. Special pujas and prayers are conducted at this temple.
Observation of the festival
The festival is mainly observed in honour and memory of Sri Shabari. It is believed that reading / listening to Sri Shabari’s story is auspicious. The other details of the festivities are not available.