Rama Navami is celebrated to commemorate the birthday of Lord Rama. It is a spring festival. Rama, according to Hindu mythology, was the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu. He was born to King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya of Ayodhya on the ninth day of Chaitra Navratri. According to legend, he was born to King Dasharatha and Queen Kaushalya of Ayodhya in the Tretha Yug. In the Hindu calendar, this festival is observed in the Shukla Paksha (brighter half) of Chaitra month.
Devotees pray for peace, success, and prosperity on this day and seek the blessings of Rama. Sri Rama Navami is also the ninth day of Navratri. Devotees offer food to the needy on this day. Hindus also perform a ritual called Kanya Pooja on this day. Nine young girls are invited to people’s homes and treated with respect as it is believed that they represent the goddess or Devi. They will also be offered prasad like sooji halwa, kala chana, and puri after the Pooja ritual.
What is the Story behind Ram Navami?
Rama Navami is mentioned in the Ramayana, one of the two great Hindu epics. The story of Rama Navami is also known as Vratha Katha. It narrates how King Dasharatha and his three queens, Kaushalya, Sumitra, and Kaikeyi, had no children. So they performed the Putra Kamesti Yagna as per the advice of Sage Vashishta, as they wanted an heir to rule the kingdom. After the Yagna got over, the three queens were given kheer, which was blessed by the Lord of the Yagna. Soon, the three queens conceived, and on the ninth day of Chaitra month, Rama was born to Queen Kaushalya. Bharat was born to Kaikeyi, and Lakshman and Shatrugana were born to Sumitra.
Because of a promise Dasharatha had made to Kaikeyi, Lord Rama had to give up his claim to the throne of Ayodhya and go in exile to the forest. Kaikeyi wanted her own son, Bharat, to become the crown prince. Rama uncomplainingly went to the forest in order to honor his father’s promise to Kaikeyi. After he returned from his exile, he ruled the kingdom and became known as a just and righteous ruler.
How is Rama Navami Celebrated?
Rama Navami 2021 is one of the major Hindu festivals and is celebrated with great fervor. On Rama Navami, lots of devotees visit temples. Some devotees delight in giving a bath and dressing up tiny idols of Rama and later place them in a cradle. A lamp is also lit in front of the idol, and kheer is made as an offering to God. Some devotees celebrate Navami by giving food to the needy. Kanya Pooja is also performed on this day, wherein nine girls are invited to the devotee’s home and treated with respect as Hindus feel that they represent the goddesses. Prasad comprising halwa and puri is also prepared and offered to the girls.
The day begins with devotees offering prayers to the Sun. The Sun is a symbol of power, and it is believed to be Rama's ancestor. Hence, it is believed that praying to the Sun in the morning to seek divine blessings is auspicious. Devotees of Rama spend the day singing devotional songs and listening to recitals from religious books, and chanting Vedic hymns. Priests preach sermons from the religious texts. Some keep a fast for the whole day. All these practices help purify the mind and the body. At the end of the day, devotees have fruits and sweets to break the fast. The chariot procession or Rath Yatra is an important part of the festival. The images of Rama, Sita, Lakshman, and Hanuman are placed in a decorated chariot and taken out in a procession on the streets. Taking a bath in the river Sarayu in Ayodhya is another important ritual. It is believed to purify the body and soul. In South India, the festival is also celebrated as the wedding anniversary of Rama and Sita.
What is The Significance of Rama Navami?
Rama Navami symbolizes the advent of divine power on the earth. The purpose of Rama’s birth was to destroy the evil demon, Ravana. Therefore, the celebration of Rama Navami glorifies the triumph of good over evil. It heralds the removal of negativity and the presence of divine power on earth.
Rama Navami is mainly celebrated in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, and Telangana, where people play with sticks. In Odisha, Jharkand, and West Bengal, devotees visit local Jagannath temples to witness the annual 'Rath Yatra'. Sri Rama Navami 2021 is on April 21.