Understanding the Unique Devotion of Chhattisgarh’s Ramnamis

Understanding the Unique Devotion of Chhattisgarh’s Ramnamis

In the 19th century, in central and northern Chhattisgarh, the Ramnami Samaj emerged as a peaceful resistance movement against the caste system in India. The members of this sect, known as Ramnamis, made a significant decision over a century ago to tattoo the name of Lord Ram on their bodies and faces. This symbolic act aimed to convey the belief that Lord Ram, or God, is present everywhere.

Recent Developments and Statements

In a recent statement, the Ramnamis mentioned that their ancestors had foretold the consecration ceremony of the Ram Lalla idol 150 years ago. The government of Chhattisgarh has organized the Ramnami fair in the state ahead of the Ram Temple ‘pran pratishtha’ ceremony, highlighting the significance of the Ramnami Samaj in the region.

Emphasis on Worship in Any Form

Ramnamis, devoted followers of Lord Ram, emphasize the worship of Ram in any form, be it in saffron robes or with a shaved head. They believe that worshiping Ram establishes a profound connection with him.

Gender Equality and Unique Adornments

Ramnamis prioritize gender equality and adorn themselves with ‘ghungroos’ and a crown crafted from peacock feathers. In their devotional practices, ‘ghungroos’ play a vital role in dances and Bhajan performances. Unlike orthodox Hinduism, Ramnamis believe in a formless divine entity, worshiping the ‘One True God’ identified as Ram. As a manifestation of their devotion, they inscribe his name on their bodies.

Tattooing Rituals and Painful Endeavors

The process of tattooing among the Ramnamis is carried out manually by appointed senior members, using two wooden needles, making it an intensely painful endeavor. The ink used is created from the soot obtained by burning kerosene oil in an earthen pot.

Personal Story: Sejwana from Saraikela Village

Sejwana, a Ramnami from Chhattisgarh’s Saraikela village, has been singing devotional songs since childhood. She belongs to the fourth generation of the Ramnami tradition and has Lord Ram’s name inscribed on her surroundings, homes, and clothes. Her dedication reflects the deep-rooted cultural and spiritual practices of the Ramnamis in Chhattisgarh.