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Rama Navami , the 9th day of the Shukla Paksa (Moon waxing phase / the bright fortnight) of the Tamil month of Chittirai (Mar- Apr) is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Rama, the arrival of the divine power on the earthplane. This day is also known as Chaitra Masa Shukla paksha Navami and it falls on the last day of the Chaitra-Navaratri (Vasanta Navaratri) celebrations. This is the time to inundate ourselves with the spirit of Lord Rama.
Lord Rama is none other than Lord Vishnu and he is the 7th incarnation and is one among the gods mostly worshipped. One of the greatest epic Ramayana unfolds the story of Lord Rama highlighting his characters, virtues and morals. He was beautiful, gentle, soft spoken; well accomplished, possessed the royal traits, selfless, his fame, skills, valor and proficiency had no limits and was matchless. He was filled with compassion and an embodiment of humanity. He was an epitome of love. He was an ideal son, an ideal brother, an ideal husband, an ideal friend and an ideal king. He is the personification of all the highest ideals of man. As a responsible King of Ayodhya, the character of Ram represents the glory of sacrifice and honesty.
Lord Vishnu took birth in this earth plane as Lord Rama in order to establish righteousness, defeat and destroy the evil forces and protect his devotees. The noblest teaching highlighted in the Ramayana is the paramount significance of righteousness in every human being’s life. Righteousness is the first step of spiritual evolution and nurturing this trait over a period of time unfolds the underlying divinity in a man. It is believed that the incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the human form as Lord Rama, is to institute or demonstrate the importance of the path of righteousness.
On the Rama Navami day, devotees offer their prayers to Lord Rama and also observe fast. As a tradition or practice, first prayers are offer to Sun god, as Lord Rama belongs to the Surya dynasty or the Surya Vamsh, also called as Raghu Vamsh. As the Sun represents light and power, devotees worship the Sun god to gain his blessings for their life to be filled with light. People sing bhajans in the name of Lord, chant Rama Nama, read Ramayana. Chanting of Vedic hymns is an important part of the celebrations. Devotees undertake fasting to overcome all obstacles in life and find happiness in material world. Fasting on this day also help to purify soul, mind and body.
Sri Rama Navami Vratham (fasting) is one of the important in Hindu practices. Many devotees observe a day long fasting from morning. Some take liquid diet on that day and some have one time meal. Food items like potatoes, garlic, ginger, onion etc are avoided. Some people only take fruits.
According to the epic, during the Tretha yuga, Dasarath the king of the ancient Kingdom of Ayodhya lived with his wives Kausalya, Sumithra and Kaikeyi. To his dismay, he was childless or did not have a heir. The great sage Vasistha advised Dasarath to perform the Putra Kameshti Yagna to be blessed with his desire of having a child. As per the advice the yagna was performed by trained vedic pundits in the presence of special invitee Maharishi Rishyasringa. At the end of the Yagna, Yagneshwara gave king Dhasaratha, a bowl divine porridge and asked him to distribute it to his wives. After few days, the Queens conceived. On the Navami (at 9th day) in the Chaitra month at noon Kausalya gave birth to Rama, Kaikeyi to Bharata and Sumitra to twin boys named Lakshmana and Shatrughna. This day is celebrated as Sri Rama Navami.