Ram Navami is an occasion which marks the birthday of Lord Ram. Read about the significance of Ram Navami and rituals followed on the occasion of this festival.
Cultural Significance of Ram Navami
The festival of Ram Navami marks the birthday celebrations of the Hindu Lord Rama, who is considered to be one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. According to the Hindu calendar, it falls on the ninth day of the Chaitra month, which is the Spring season. In some parts of India, it is celebrated as a nine-day festival that coincides with Vasanta Navratri, dedicated to the female force or Divine Mother better known as Durga or Shakti.
What Are the Rituals?
Ram Navami is one of the most important festivals of the Vaishnav sect of Hindus. In the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, early morning rituals mark Ram Navami. It entails a havan, chanting of Vedic mantras and offerings of fruits and flowers. A Rama temple is beautifully decorated and the image of the Lord Rama is adorned with rich clothes and jewels. Stories from the Ramayana are read out in joyous public gatherings and satsangs. Most people fast until midnight. They break their fast with a prasad of fruits and milk.
This festival is celebrated with great pomp and glory even in Pondicherry, Rishikesh and Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Rama. The Ram Navami fair held at Ayodhya draws a huge crowd of dedicated devotees. In the South, this festival is celebrated for nine days as the wedding of Lord Rama and his lovely consort Sita. People sing and chant the name of the Lord. Devotees have a highly colourful ceremony to mark the wedding celebrations.
The Ramayana is a story of Lord Rama, written by the sage Valmiki in the 4th century B.C. As the legend goes, Lord Rama, eldest son of King Dashratha, was banished to the forest for 14 long years. He was dethroned due to his stepmother's plans who wanted to see her son Bharata ascend the throne in place of the elder brother Rama. Rama willingly gave away the throne and his wife Sita and brother Lakshman followed Rama to the forest, leaving the throne for Bharata.
In these 14 years of banishment, Rama waged and won a war against the evil Ravana, the King of Lanka, who had kidnapped his wife Sita. He was aided by a band of monkeys, the most loyal of whom is worshipped today as Lord Hanuman. Rama ascended the Ayodhya throne after the triumph over Ravana. Even as he started ruling, he was forced to banish his wife from the kingdom, following a villager's adverse comment about her association with Ravana. The legend is cited to prove how Lord Rama always lived a life of righteousness (dharma). He was born to destroy the evil and protect the weak. As he embodies the highest ideals of man, he is called the Maryada Pushottam, which means the perfect and best man, someone who follows the path of righteousness against all odds.
Significance of Ram Navami
Lord Rama was the ideal son, a righteous King, an upright husband and a loving brother. He also led an ideal life of a householder. He was also the true embodiment of humanity. Ram Navami is a therefore a special reminder of the noble ideals for which Lord Rama stood.