An Indian Festival marking the birth of Sri Rama
Malini Gupta, our Indian correspondent, tells us that Ram Navami (Rama Navami) falls on the ninth day of the waxing moon in the month of Chiatra, (or Chaitra Masa Suklapaksha Navami). This day, marking the birthday of Lord Rama, is also observed as the marriage day of Rama and Sita, the stars of the epic poem, Ramayana. Lord Sri Rama is one of the main focal points of worship in the subcontinent and among Indian people throughout the world. Ramrajya (the reign of Rama) has become synonymous with a period of peace and prosperity.
The birthday of Lord Rama, the hero of the famous epic, Ramayana, is enthusiastically celebrated all over India. Lord Vishnu is worshipped in his seventh human incarnation as Rama, the divine ruler of Ayodhya.
Lord Rama is a legendary figure, the epitome of all that is good and true, the man who vanquished the demon king Ravana. Lord Rama is not just a hero, but has been given the status of a god by the Hindus. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that his birth is celebrated year after year with great pomp and show.
Temples of Rama
During Ram Navami, temples of Rama are decorated, religious discourses are held and the Ramayana is recited for ten days. People sing devotional songs in praise of Rama and rock images of him in a cradle to celebrate his birth.
Rathyatras or chariot processions of Rama, his wife Sita, brother Lakshmana and devotee Hanuman (the Monkey King) are held from many temples. The chariot is accompanied by several devotees dressed up in ancient costumes as Rama's soldiers. The procession is a gusty affair with the participants shouting praises echoing the happy days of Rama's reign.
Everyone participates in the puja (worship) by first sprinkling the water, roli, and aipun on the gods and then showering handfuls of rice on the deities. Then everybody stands up to perform the arti (candle ritual) at the end of which ganga jal or plain water is sprinkled over the gathering. The singing of bhajans (devotional songs) goes on for the entire puja.
Finally, the prasad (sacred offering of food) is distributed among all the people who have gathered for worship.
Some observe a strict fast on this day. The diet of such a person would include potatoes made in any form without haldi (turmeric), garlic, ginger or onion. He can also eat fruit and root vegetables of any kind. Curd, tea, coffee, milk, and water are also permitted
On the face of it Sri-Ramnavmi appears to be just a festival commemorating the reign of a king who was later deified. But even behind present-day traditions there are clues which unmistakably point to the origin of Ramnavmi as lying beyond the Ramayana story.
A huge fair is held in Ayodhya (Ram Janam Bhumi) on Ram Navami day, where thousands of devotees gather to celebrate this festival.
In Andhra Pradesh
Ram Navami is a major festival celebrated with great religious fervour and devotion. It is celebrated for 10 days from the Chaitra saptami to the Bahula Padyami that fall in the month of March and April. Rambhaktas (devotees of Rama) visit temples where Rama's birthday is celebrated by the re-enactment of his marriage to Sita. For this reason Ram Navami is also called the Kalyanotsavam.
In Other Parts Of South India
Besides the usual fasting and prayers, a most delightful tradition that is practised as a part of the Ram Navami celebrations in south India is the narration of stories. Talented storytellers are known to narrate episodes of the Ramayana adding local flavour and humour to it. This is essentially a folk tradition and still continues in villages and small towns.
The Sun is considered to be the progenitor of Rama's dynasty, which is called the Solar Dynasty (Raghukula or Raghuvamsa – Raghu means Sun and Kula or Vamsa mean familial descendant). Rama is also known as Raghunatha, Raghupati, Raghavendra etc. That all these names begin with the prefix Raghu is also suggestive of some link with Sun-worship. The hour chosen for the observance of the Lord's birth is that when the Sun is overhead and is at its maximum brilliance. In some Hindu sects, prayers on Ramnavami day start not with an invocation to Rama but to Surya (Sun). Again the syllable Ra is used in the word to describe the Sun and brilliance in many languages. In Sanskrit, Ravi and Ravindra both mean "Sun".
This concludes the article. Read more of Malini's work at TruthStar.
Check out Vedic Sidereal New Year April 13, 2008, a rare and fortunate day.