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Images of Rama (center), with consort Sita and brother Laxman
|Type||Birth day of Rama; Marriage day of Rama with Sita|
|Ends||Chaitra Navami, Ninth day of Chaitra month|
|Celebrations||1 - 9 days|
|Observances||puja, vrata (fast) and feasting|
|Related to||Rama Sita|
Ram Navami (IAST Rāma-navamī) (Devanāgarī: राम नवमी) is a Hindu festival, celebrating of the birth of Lord Rama, son of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya, and a divine figure in Hinduism believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu . The day also known as Sri Rama Navami, falls on the Navami, ninth day of the Chaitra month of Hindu lunar year in 'Shukla paksha' or waxing moon, thus named Chaitra Masa Suklapaksha Navami, and marks the end of nine-day Chaitra-Navratri celebrations.
At some places the festival lasts, the whole nine days of the Navratras, thus the period is called 'Rama Navratra' . Rama is the hero of the Hindu epic, Ramayan, it is marked by continuous recitals, Akhand Paath, mostly of the Ramacharitamanas, organized several days in advance to culminate on this day, with elaborate bhajan and kirtan singing, and distribution of prasad after the puja and aarti. Images of baby Rama are placed on cradles and rocked by devotees. Since Lord Rama is believed to have born at noon, temples and family shrines are elaborately decorated and traditional prayers are chanted together by the family in the morning. Also, at temples special havan (yajna) are organized, along with chanting of Vedic mantras and offerings of fruits and flowers. Many Hindus mark this day by Vrata (fasting) through the day followed by feasting in the evening, or at the culmination of celebrations . In South India, the day is also celebrated as the wedding anniversary of Rama and his consort Sita, thus ceremonial wedding ceremonies, Sitarama Kalyanam, of the celestial couple are held at temples throughout the region, with great fanfare and accompanied by group chanting of name of Rama, Rama nama smaranam .
The important celebrations on this day take place at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh and Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, thronged by thousands of devotees, and Rathayatras, the chariot processions, also known as Shobha yatras of Rama, his wife Sita, brother Lakshmana and devotee Hanuman, are taken out at several places , including Ayodhya where thousands of people take a dip in the sacred river Sarayu .
In the Ramayana, Dasarath, then king of Ayodhya, is believed to have had three wives named Kaushalya, Sumithra and Kaikeyi. Their greatest worry was that they had no male children, and so they had no heir to the throne. Rishi Vasistha suggests him to perform Puthra Kamesti Yagna, through which he can have a desired child. He also tells him to bring Maharshi Rushya Shrunga to perform this Yagna for him. Immediately King Dasharath gives his consent, and heads to Maharshi Rushya Shrunga's ashram, to get him. Maharshi agrees and will accompany Dasharath to Ayodhya (Capital of Avadha) and performs the yagna. As the result of yagna, Yagneshwar appears and hands Dasarath a bowl of Payasam and asks him to give it to his wives. Dasharath gives one half of the payasam to his elder wife Kausalya, and another half to his younger wife Kaikeyi. They both give half of their portions to Sumithra. After few days all three Queens conceive. On the ninth day (Navami) of Chaithra Masa (last month in Hindu calendar), at noon Kaushlya gives birth to Lord Sri Ram, Kaikeyi gives birth to Bharath, and Sumithra to twin boys, Lakshman and Shatrughan.
Lord Ram is the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who takes birth on earth when Adharma over rules Dharma. He protects all his devotees by vanquishing the roots of Adharma. Lord Ram was born on earth to destroy the demon named Ravan.
Natal chart of Rama
|“|| “On completion of the ritual six seasons have passed by and then in the twelfth month, on the ninth day of Chaitra month [March-April], when the presiding deity of ruling star of the day is Aditi, where the ruling star of day is Punarvasu (Nakshatra), the asterism is in the ascendant, and when five of the nine planets viz., Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus are at their highest position, when Jupiter with Moon is ascendant in Cancer, and when day is advancing, then Queen Kausalya gave birth to a son with all the divine attributes like lotus-red eyes, lengthy arms, roseate lips, voice like drumbeat, and who took birth to delight the Ikshwaku dynasty, who is adored by all the worlds, and who is the greatly blessed epitome of Vishnu, namely Rama.” |
- Book I : Bala Kanda, Ramayana by Valmiki, Chapter (Sarga) 18, Verse 8, 9, 10 and 11 
Hindus normally perform Kalyanotsavam (marriage celebration) with small murtis of Rama and Sita in their houses, and at the end of the day the deity is taken to a procession on the streets. This day also marks the end of the nine-day utsavam called Chaitra Navaratri (Maharashtra) or Vasanthothsava (Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh & Tamil Nadu) (festival of Spring), which starts with Gudi Padwa (Maharashtra). According to recent astrological studies, some consider his year of birth to be January 10, 5114 B.C. 
Some highlights of this day include
- Kalyanam, a ceremonial wedding performed by temple priests
- Panakam, a sweet drink prepared on this day with jaggery and pepper.
- Procession of murtis in the evening, accompanied by playing with water and colours.
For the occasion, Hindus are supposed to fast, or restrict themselves to a specific diet. Temples are decorated and readings of the Ramayana take place. Along with Shri Ram, people also worship Sita, Rama's wife; Lakshman, Rama's brother; and Hanuman, an ardent devotee of Ram and the leader of Rama's army in battle.
Sri-Rama Navami is dedicated to the memory of Lord Rama. It occurs on the ninth day, or navami. The festival commemorates the birth of Rama who is remembered for his prosperous and righteous reign.
The "Kalyanam" performed in the Temple of Bhadrachalam,in Andhra Pradesh is very famous A number of ISKCON temples introduced a more prominent celebration of the occasion of the holiday with the view of addressing needs of growing native Hindu congregation. It is however always was a notable calendar event on the traditional Gaurabda calendar with a specific additional requirement of fasting by devotees.
Ramrajya, the reign of Rama, has become synonymous with a period of peace and prosperity. Mahatma Gandhi also used this term to describe how, according to him, India should be after Independence.
Rama Navami occurs in the months of March and April. Celebrations begin with a prayer to the Sun early in the morning. At midday, when Lord Rama is supposed to have been born, a special prayer is performed. In northern India especially, an event that draws popular participation is the Rama Navami procession. The main attraction in this procession is a gaily decorated chariot in which four persons are dressed up as Rama, his brother Laxman, his queen Sita and his disciple Hanuman. The chariot is accompanied by several other persons dressed up in ancient costumes as work by Rama's soldiers. The procession is a gusty affair with the participants shouting praises echoing the happy days of Rama's reign.
On the face of it Sri-Ramnavmi appears to be just a festival commemorating the reign of a king who was later deified. But even behind present-day traditions there are clues which unmistakably point to the origin of Ramnavmi as lying beyond the Ramayana story.
Sri Rama Navami occurs at the beginning of summer when the sun has started moving nearer to the northern hemisphere. The Sun is considered to be the progenitor of Rama's dynasty which is called the Sun dynasty. This dynasty is famous for great kings like King Dileep, King Raghu and many others. In all King Raghu was noted to stand for his word. Following the foot prints of his great ancestor King Raghu, Lord Rama too went to jungles to keep the promises made by his father Dasarath to his step mother Kaikeyi. Hence Rama came to be known as Raghunatha, Raghupati, Raghavendra etc. That all these names begin with the prefix Raghu is also suggestive of some link with Sun-worship. The hour chosen for the observance of the lord's birth is that when the sun is overhead and is at its maximum brilliance. In some Hindu sects, prayers on Rama Navami day start not with an invocation to Rama but to Surya (sun). Again the syllable Ra is used in the word to describe the sun and brilliance in many languages. In Sanskrit, Ravi and Ravindra mean Sun.
Significantly, the ancient Egyptians termed the sun as Amon Ra or simply as "Ra." In Latin the syllable Ra is used to connote light. For example, we have Radiance which emission of light, or Radium which means any substance emitting light or brilliance. The common element is the syllable Ra which in many languages is used to derive words for describing Sun or light.
The occurrence of this syllable in most names used for Rama along with other clues is strongly suggestive that the festival Rama Navami antedates the Ramayana and it must have originated much before the Ramayana, as a 'Sun-festival' for invoking the Sun who was recognized as the source of light and heat even in ancient times. Many royal dynasties portrayed symbols of virility like the Sun, Eagle, Lion etc. as their progenitor. Rama's dynasty considered themselves to have descended from the Sun. This could have led to the tagging on, of Rama's birthday to a festival devoted to the sun.
References and notes
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ram Navami BBC.
- ↑ Gupte, B.A. (1919). Hindu Holidays and Ceremonials.
- ↑ The nine-day festival of Navratri leading up to Ram Navami has bhajans, kirtans and discourses in store for devotees Indian Expresss, Friday , March 31, 2006.
- ↑ Sri Ram Navami Hindu and Muhammadan festivals, by John Murdoch. Published by Asian Educational Services, 1991. ISBN 8120607082. Page 47 .
- ↑ Ram Navami
- ↑ Ramnavami Govt. of India Portal.
- ↑ Ramnavami The Times of India, Apr 2, 2009.
- ↑ Gaiety marks celestial wedding in Bhadrachalam The Hindu, Saturday, Apr 08, 2006.
- ↑ Thousands witness Sitarama kalyanam The Hindu, Saturday, Apr 08, 2006.
- ↑ On Ram Navami, we celebrate our love for the ideal Indian Express, Monday , March 31, 2003.
- ↑ Shobha yatra on Ram Navami eve Indian Express, Thursday, March 25, 1999.
- ↑ At Ayodhya, Ram Navami celebrated amid religious harmony Indian Express, Apr 15, 2008.
- ↑ Rama Navami South Indian Hindu Festivals and Traditions, by Maithily Jagannathan. Published by Abhinav Publications, 2005. ISBN 8170174155. Page 82.
- ↑ Rama Navami
- ↑ Bala Kanda, Chapter 18, Verse 8, 9, 10 Text
- ↑ The Sunday Tribune - Spectrum - Lead Article
- ↑ 'Lord Ram was born in 5114 BC'-India-The Times of India
- ↑ http://www.bhadrachalarama.org/
- ↑ Zaidman, N. (2000). "The Integration of Indian Immigrants to Temples Run by North Americans". Social Compass 47 (2): 205. doi:10.1177/003776800047002005. http://scp.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/47/2/205. Retrieved 2008-06-01. "Another example of a religious enterprise initiated by a board member was the organization of Lord Ramachandra Appearance Day (Sri Ram Navami).".
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