Devotees take out a procession to mark birth centenary of Guru Ravidas

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Varanasi, Jan 31 (ANI): Devotees took out a procession to mark the 633rd birth anniversary of Guru Ravidas, a mystic saint, who preached social unity and equality at his birth place in Varanasi.

Guru Ravidas was born in a village near Varanasi in 1376. He was a Harijan by birth and taught spirituality based on emancipation from the oppressive caste system.

He was involved in the Bhakti Movement which was very popular in the 15th century. Revered in northern and western India, Ravidas is regarded as one of the fifteen Bhagats of the Sikh community.

In the 19th and the 20th centuries, there emerged a different sect called the Ravidasis or followers of Ravidas, for whom he was the chief preacher.

Later, a temple was built at his birthplace in Varanasi. Ravidas Jayanti is celebrated with a procession that carries a portrait of the great saint through the main streets and marketplaces of the city with music.

Devotees from India and abroad visit the temple to make their offerings to the saint on his birth anniversary.

"People are coming to visit this temple from India and far off places like Canada. I am ardent believer of Ravidas and visit this temple frequently to seek his blessings," said Kirandeep Kaur, a devotee.

Special rituals and feasts were also arranged in the temple. Devotees dress up as Ravidas or his associates, and dance to some of his devotional songs.

"This is the place where Guru Ravidas was born and meditated for years. People come consider this as a pilgrimage and come here to seek the blessing of this holy Guru," said Devraj, another devotee.

Guru Ravidas's devotional songs and verses made a long-lasting impact upon the Bhakti movement.

He taught that one is distinguished not by one's caste, but by one's actions, and that every person has the right to worship God and read the holy texts. (ANI)

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