What is Sri Rama Navami?
Sri Rama Navami is celebrated to observe the birth anniversary of Sri Rama. It is held on the 9th day of Chaitra (March-April) month. This is the first month in the Hindu calendar. It also marks the end of the 9-day festival, Vasanta Navratri (Chaitra Navratri). Hence, the festival is also called Rama Navratri. Rama Navami 2021 is on April 21,
Rama Navami is celebrated in many places in India. On this day, devotees recite verses from the Ramayana and Shrimad Bhagavatam, perform Poojas, and visit temples. They also observe a day-long fast, which begins in the morning and continues till the next morning. Kheer is prepared and offered to the deity. Some celebrate by giving food to the needy. Kanya Pooja ritual is also performed on this day. Nine young girls are invited to the devotee’s home and treated with affection and respect as it is believed that the girls represent the goddesses. Halwa and puri are also offered to them as prasad.
What is the Significance of Rama Navami?
Rama Navami is one of five important Hindu festivals. It celebrates the birth anniversary of Sri Rama. Rama is said to be the 7th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Vishnu took many avatars to put an end to the reign of adharma on earth. Rama came to earth to kill Ravana, the evil demon king of Lanka. Rama was born to King Dasharatha of Ayodhya and his wife, Kausalya.
As Dasharatha had no offspring, he performed a ritual - Putra Kameshti Yagna - for getting a child. After the Yagna, the king’s wives conceived. In due course of time, they gave birth to sons. Rama was born to Kausalya, Lakshmana and Shatrughna to Sumitra, and Bharat to Kaikeyi.
The Hindu epic, Ramayana, narrates the story of Rama’s birth, his marriage to Sita, his exile in the forest to honor his father’s promise to Kaikeyi, who wanted Bharat to be anointed the crown prince, and the killing of Ravana.
Rama is a God who inspires great respect and affection among Hindus. He is known as Maryada Purushottam for his noble qualities. He is the embodiment of the ideal son, husband, and king.
What is the Sri Rama Navami Fasting Procedure?
Sri Ram Navami vrat or fast is compulsory for devotees of Rama. The vrata is believed to have the power to wash away our sins and offer Moksha or liberation from the birth-death cycle.
The vrat begins the previous night itself and continues on the day of Ram Navami. Devotees offer prayers to the idol of Rama and perform a Homa to invoke Rama’s blessings. They chant Rama Mantra and remain awake through the night. After completing the fast, the idol is donated to an Acharya along with other gifts.
There are three kinds of fasts for Sri Ram Navami
1) Fasting until noon.
2) Eating only once during the day.
3) Fasting till midnight.
4) Fasting for nine days, beginning on the first day of Chaitra.
During the fast, if a devotee eats only one meal, it is usually fruits or fruit juices. In case a devotee eats a full meal, it will include potatoes prepared using a special recipe. No turmeric, ginger, garlic, or onion should be used to make the potatoes. Fruits and vegetables are also allowed. Tea, coffee, milk, curd, and water are also allowed.
How to Observe Sri Rama Navami Vrat?
Devotees of Lord Rama observe the fast for the entire day. Nirjal Vrat [waterless fast] is not needed. Some devotees do observe a strict fast, not drinking even a drop of water till midnight.
A particular diet comprising certain foods needs to be followed. Potatoes (prepared without using turmeric, ginger, garlic, or onion) can be eaten in any form. Sendha namak [rock salt] is used for preparing food during the fast. Devotees can also eat milk, curd, tea, coffee, root vegetables, and fruits.
What is the Significance of Fasting on Rama Navami?
It is believed that fasting on this day with genuine devotion brings great blessings like wealth, good health, and prosperity. Therefore, fasting on Rama Navami has been practiced for ages. Fasting is also supported by Hindu religious texts. It is said to purify the mind and body, thereby helping us to become closer to the divine. It is also believed to bestow Moksha or liberation.