About Ram Navami
Ram Navami is a major Hindu festival that commemorates the birth of Lord Sri Ram, an Avatar of Lord Vishnu, the preserver and protector of the universe. Sri Ram is acknowledged as the ‘Maryada Purushottam’ or the ultimate man who was born to restore the natural order of things and re-establish dharma in the world. The birthday of Rama is observed in the Hindu month of Chaitra on the ninth lunar day of Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of the moon). This momentous day is observed as Ram Navami and grand celebrations are held throughout the country and in every other place that has a sizable Hindu population.
Most pilgrimage centers and religious spots across India witness a massive surge of activity during the months of March–April every year. Millions of people from all over the world come to participate in the celebrations with full faith and devotion to acquiring the blessings of the Supreme Lord. Everyone is gripped with religious zeal and wants to take part in the Ram Navami celebrations in one way or the other.
History of Ram Navami
Great Indian epics describe the birth of Sri Rama to King Dasharatha, the ruler of Ayodhya, which lies in the present day state of Uttar Pradesh in India. Even though Dasharatha had three wives, Kausalya, Kaikeyi, and Sumithra, he was dejected because he had no male progeny to carry on his lineage and inherit the throne. It made the king and his wives very sad, and they approached one of the chief sage Vasishta for advice. Vasishta instructed the king to perform the ‘Puthra Kameshi Yagna,’ a sacred ritual to obtain a male heir to the throne of the kingdom.
The delighted king and his royal entourage set out for the hermitage of Rishi Rishya Shringya to conduct the ritual. Elaborate arrangements for the grand homa were made, and the ceremony was carried out under the patronage of the great sage Maharshi Rushya Shrunga. After the successful completion of the Pooja, a bowl of kheer (sweet dish) was given to Dasharatha to be distributed among his wives.
The King gave half of the kheer to his first wife Kaushalya and the remainder to his other wife, Kaikeyi. Subsequently, both the Queens then gave half of the kheer from their share to Sumithra, the youngest wife.
Birth of Rama
As expected, all the Queens conceived, and at noon on a ninth day in the month of Chaitra, Lord Sri Ram was born to Queen Kaushalya. Meanwhile, Kaikeyi gave birth to Bharath, and Sumithra gave birth to the twins Lakshman and Shatrughan.
King Dasharatha was overjoyed and subsequently broke the happy news to the citizens of Ayodhya. A divine euphoria gripped the city, and frenzied celebrations broke out everywhere to welcome the newborn babies into the world. The ecstatic citizens offered prayers to the almighty for granting them with a suitable heir to the throne. Little did they realize God himself had manifested in their midst as Sri Ram, the newborn son of Queen Kaushalya.
The great Indian epic Ramayana, written by sage Valmiki and several other Hindu scriptures acknowledge Rama as the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who assumed human form to protect the innocent from evil forces and restore equilibrium in the natural order of things.
Rama Assumes Throne
When Rama assumed the throne, the people of Ayodhya began dutifully observing his birthday as a tribute towards the just rule of their divine king. Fasting on this day is highly auspicious and is believed to cleanse the soul. Historically speaking it is difficult to ascertain the exact period when Rama Navami celebrations were first started, but it is believed that this took place approximately sometime around 5114 B.C. Mention of the festival can even be found in the ancient Indian epic ‘Kalika Purana.’
Lord Rama’s deeds and actions endeared him to everyone in the royal household, and the citizens of Ayodhya loved him dearly, looking upon him as their savior and protector. Everyone was heartbroken when he left for exile to the forest, along with Sita and Lakshman. Whatever be the circumstances for his retreat to the forest, it had to come about since Lord Sri Rama was pre-destined to vanquish the demon king of Lanka, Ravana, and rid the world of his atrocities. It was the ultimate purpose of Lord Vishnu descending to Earth in human form.