Rama Navami celebrates the birth anniversary of Lord Sri Ram. The day falls on the ninth day of the Chaitra month in (March-April). The day assumes even more significance since it coincides with the last day of Chaitra Navratri. Rama Navami is a major occasion of celebration in Hinduism. The day is observed with great joy and fervor throughout the country, and more so in Northern India. The festivities are especially grand in the city of Ayodhya, the birth place of Lord Sri Ram.
Significance of Rama Navami
The occasion of Rama Navami is of great significance in India as it marks the day when divinity descended to earth from Heaven. This was the day when Lord Vishnu incarnated on earth as Sri Ram. He was born as the elder son of Dasharath, the king of Ayodhya. The purpose of Lord Vishnu’s descent was to vanquish Ravana, the King of Lanka, who had allowed his bodily instincts to control his personality. Thus, Rama Navami celebrates the triumph of good over evil and the importance of mastering the senses. Celebrating Rama Navami also indicates the removal of negativity and the necessity of adhering to dharma.
Legend of Rama Navami
The incarnation of Lord Vishnu on Earth as Sri Rama, and his subsequent victory over Ravana, forms the basis of one of the holiest and most revered Hindu texts, ‘The Ramayana’. In ancient days during the ‘Treta Yuga’, the virtuous King Dasharath of Ayodhya was childless and desperate to carry forward his lineage. The great Sage Vasishta suggested he conduct the ‘Puthra Kamesti Yagna’ in order to beget a child. It was also recommended that Maharshi Rishyasringa be invited to perform the Yagna. After completion of the rituals, the King was given a bowl of ‘Kheer’ by the deity of the Yagna. King Dasharath distributed the kheer among his three wives, who subsequently conceived. It was on the ninth day of the Chaitra month that Queen Kausalya was blessed with a son. He was none other than the 7th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The birthday of the Lord as ‘Sri Ram’ was and still is, a momentous occasion, which people celebrate every year as 'Rama Navami’.
Celebrations and Rituals of Rama Navami
The festival of Rama Navami is one the holiest days in Hinduism, with devotees starting the day by arising early and taking a bath at the break of dawn. Salutations are offered to ‘Surya’ the Sun God, who symbolizes power and forms the life force of all living beings.
Taking a holy bath in the sacred river of Saryu in Ayodhya is considered highly auspicious on Rama Navami day. Devotees believe that this ritual purifies the body and soul.
Devotees, then sing devotional songs, listen to recitations from Hindu religious texts and chant Vedic Hymns. Many organize sermons of sacred texts which are presided over by qualified preachers.
The practice of these rituals is to enlighten and create awareness among devotees about the virtues of dharma. It also highlights the significance of carrying out good deeds in order to lead a righteous life.
In keeping with Hindu religious tradition, observing a ‘Vrat’ (fast) on Rama Navami is considered to be highly rewarding; this also serves as a detoxification and purifying ritual for the body. The fast is broken at the end of the day, with devotees consuming fruits and sweets to conclude the ritual.
The practice of organizing a chariot procession displaying the images of Lord Ram, Sita and Lakshman on the occasion of Rama Navami forms an integral part of the festival.
Rama Navami is also celebrated as the wedding anniversary of Lord Ram and Sita in many regions of South India. The occasion is observed with great fanfare and enthusiasm by devotees.