Sri Rama Navami is the birth anniversary of Sri Rama. Rama Navami 2021 is on Wednesday, April 21. It is celebrated on the 9th day of Chaitra (March-April) month, which is the first month in the Hindu calendar. It is also the culmination of the spring festival of Vasanta Navratri (Chaitra Navratri), which begins on the day of Ugadi. On this day, many people conduct Poojas at home and also conclude the nine-day festival of Chaitra Navratri. Hence, the festival is also called Rama Navratri. While the dates may change each year, the festival is held on the ninth day of Shukla Paksha, in Chaitra month.
What is the History behind Rama Navami?
Rama Navami is one of the five major Hindu festivals. It celebrates Sri Rama’s birthday. Rama is said to be the 7th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Vishnu took many incarnations to destroy the forces of evil and adharma on earth. Rama came to earth to put an end to the reign of Ravana, the evil demon king of Lanka, who had abducted Rama's wife, Sita. Rama was the scion of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya and one of his 3 wives, Kausalya.
He was born after the king performed a ritual called Putra Kameshti Yagna for begetting a child and heir to the kingdom. Despite having 3 wives, Kausalya, Sumitra, and Kaikeyi, the king had no children. After the Yagna, the king distributed kheer blessed by the Lord of the Yagna to his wives. Soon after the Yagna, they conceived and later gave birth to sons. Rama was born to Kausalya, Lakshmana and Shatrughna were born to Sumitra, and Bharat was born to Kaikeyi.
The Hindu epic, Ramayana, narrates the story of Sri Rama and his killing of Ravana. It also describes his marriage to Sita and his exile in the forest due to the promise his father made to Kaikeyi, who wanted her own son, Bharat, to ascend the throne.
Rama is a deity who commands much respect and affection among devout Hindus. He is called Maryada Purushottam due to his noble qualities. He is held up as the embodiment of the ideal son, husband, and ruler. Every parent longs for a son like Rama, as he was prepared to give up the throne so that his father would not lose face before his wife. After his beloved wife was abducted by Ravana, he gathered an army of bears and monkeys and crossed the sea to recover her from captivity. Though she had been in the custody of the lascivious Ravana for many days, he never doubted his wife’s chastity. Even the Agni Pariksha she underwent was more to prove her purity to the rest of the world. And when Shoorpanaka, Ravana’s sister, appeared before Rama as a beguiling beauty and expressed her wish to marry him, he rejected her. Due to his noble character, even women long to have a husband like him.
How Is Rama Navami Observed?
Sri Rama Navami is celebrated with great fervor and devotion in many places in India. On this holy day, devotees of Rama recite verses from Hindu scriptures like the Ramayana and Shrimad Bhagavatam. They make it a point to visit temples along with families and friends and bathe and dress miniature idols of Ram. It is also customary for devotees to observe a day-long fast, which begins in the morning and continues till the next morning. People light lamps in front of the idol, and kheer is prepared and offered to the deity. Some celebrate the festival by giving food to the needy. A ritual called Kanya Pooja is also performed on this day. Nine young girls are invited to Hindu homes and treated like goddesses, as it is believed that the girls represent the goddesses. Halwa and puri are made and offered to the girls as prasad.