Ram Navami also known as Sri Ram Navami is a Hindu festival, celebrating the birth of Lord Rama. Ram is the 7th incarnation of the Dashavatara of Vishnu. The Ram Navami festival falls in the Shukla Paksha on the Navami, the ninth day of the month of Chaitra. It is also known as Chaitra Masa Shukla Paksha Navami, and marks the end of the nine-day Chaitra-Navratri celebrations.
Ram Navami – Navratras
At some places the festival lasts for nine days of the Navratras, thus the period is called ‘Sri Rama Navratra’. It is marked by continuous recitals, Akhand Paath, of the RamCharitmanas, organizes to culminate, with elaborate bhajan, kirtan and distribution of prasad after the puja and aarti. Images of infant form of Sri Rama are placed on cradles and rocked by devotees. As Rama is the 7th incarnation of Vishnu having born at noon, temples and family shrines are elaborately decorated and traditional prayers are chanted together by devotees in the morning.
Also, at temples special havens are organized, along with chanting of Vedic mantras and offerings of fruits and flowers. Many followers mark this day by Vrata (fasting) through the day followed by feasting in the evening, or at the culmination of celebrations. In South India at Bhadrachalam the day is also celebrated as the wedding anniversary of Sri Rama and his consort Sita. Sitarama Kalyanam, the ceremonial wedding ceremony of the celestial couple is held at temples throughout the south region, with great fanfare. Whereas the marriage is celebrated in Mithila and Ayodhya during another day on Vivaha Panchami as per Valmiki Ramayana.
The important celebrations on this day take place at Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh) Sita Samahit Sthal (Sitamarhi)(Bihar),Bhadrachalam(Andhra Pradesh) and Rameswaram (Tamil Nadu), thronged by thousands of devotees. Ratha Yatra, the chariot processions, also known as Shobha yatras of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana & Hanuman, are taken out at several places, including Ayodhya where thousands of people take a dip in the sacred river Sarayu.
In the epic Ramayana, Dasharatha, the emperor of Ayodhya, had three wives Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi in the Treta Yuga. Their greatest worry was that they had no children, and so they had no heir to the throne in the Ikshvaku Kula or royal lineage of great, pious, Kameshti Yajna, through which he can have a desired child. He also tells him to invite Maharshi Shangri to perform this Yajna for him. Dasharatha consents and heads Maharishi Shrangi ashram, to invite him. Maharshi agrees and accompanies Dasharatha to Ayodhya (Capital of Avadh) and performs the yajna.
As the result of this yajna, Yagneswara appears and provides Dasharatha a bowl of divine pudding (Kheer/Payasam) and requests him to give it to his wives. Dasaratha gave payasam to his elder wife Kausalya, Kaikeyi and to Sumitra. After few days all three Queens conceive. On the ninth day (Navami) of Chaithra Masa (first month in Vedic calendar), at noon Kaushalya gives birth to Rama, Kaikeyi gives birth to Bharata, and Sumitra to twin boys, Lakshmana and Shatrughna.
Rama is the seventh incarnation of Vishnu, who takes birth by his own will, on Bhuloka (Earth) when Adharma rules over Dharma. He protects all his devotees by vanquishing the roots of Adharma. Rama decided to incarnate to destroy an Asura or person with demonic and evils, called Ravana. According to Vedanta Rama represents the Paramatman or Iswara, Sita stands for Jivatman or the self individual and Ravana, the demon embodies the wicked mind having sway over five senses of perception and five senses of action.
Celebrations of Ram Navami
Followers of Hinduism in South India normally perform Kalyanotsavam (marriage celebration) with small deities idols of Rama and Sita in their homes, and at the end of the day the deity is taken to a procession on the streets. This day also marks the end of the nine-day utsava called Chaitra Navratri (Maharashtra) or Vasanthotsavam (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka & Tamil Nadu) ( festival of Spring), which starts with Gudi Padwa (Maharashtra).
For the occasion, followers of Hinduism fast or restrict themselves to a specific diet in accordance to Vedic rituals. Along with Sri Rama, people also worship Sita, Lakshmana & Hanuman.
Sri Ram Navami is dedicated to remembering Rama, as the most supreme with resolite Bhakti (devotion). It occurs on the ninth day, on navami, beginning count from the “no moon day” or Amavasya, during the waxing moon duration called “Shukla Paksha”. Celebrations and festivities begin with prayer to the Sarva Deva (sun God) early in the morning. At midday devotional service to him is performed with Bhakti and Piety.
Sri Ram Navami is shared with Swaminarayan Jayanti, the birth of Swaminarayan. He was born in the village of Chhapaiya in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
Ram Navami during RAMA RAJYA
Rama Rajya, the reign of Sri Rama, is a rare period of peace and prosperity bestowed by him. This festival commemorates the birth of Sri Rama who is remembered for his prosperous and righteous reign.
In Northern India, an event that draws popular participation is the Ram Navami procession, also called Ratha Yatra. The main attraction in this procession is a gaily decorated chariot in which four Persons enact the divine pastimes of Rama, his brother Lakshmana, his queen Sita and his devotee, Hanuman. The chariot is accompanied by several other persons dressed up in ancient costumes as Rama’s aides. The procession is a gusty affair with the participants praising echoing the blissful days of Rama’s rule as the Supreme Emperor.
Sri Rama is the model of human perfection. As an ideal son he was ever obedient and devoted to his parents. He beheld the sages with solemn reverence but he treated terrifically with wicked. He was a monarch fixed in paternal love and dedicated to public welfare.