Updated: July 1, 2022
Ram Navami is one of the most important Hindu festivals of India which falls in the Shukla Paksha on the ninth day of the month of Chaitra. This typically occurs in the Gregorian months of March or April every year. Rama Navami is an optional government holiday in India. It is also the last day of the Vasanta Navratri. This year it is falling on 14th of April. The festival celebrates the birth of the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, known as Rama.
While Navratri is celebrated with much fanfare in the North, devotees in the South celebrate Ram Navami with greater enthusiasm.
It is believed that Lord Vishnu was born on the earth as a son to the King of Ayodhya, Dasharatha, to defeat Ravana and other demons. As Rama killed Ravana in order to maintain Dharma, on earth, this festival celebrates the victory of Dharma over Adharma. Rama Navami is a spring Hindu festival that celebrates the birthday of Lord Rama who was born on Navami Tithi during Shukla Paksha of Chaitra month.
On the day of Ram Navami, devotees get up early and after bathing, offer water to the Sun God as the Sun God is believed to be the ancestor of Lord Rama. Temples of Rama are beautifully decorated and images of baby Rama are placed in small cradles. It is celebrated by many devotee with devotional worship such as bhajan and kirtan, by fasting and reading passages about life of Rama. Fasting on this day signifies purification of body and mind. Eight Prahar fasting is suggested during Rama Navami. Which means devotes should observe the fast from sunrise to sunrise.
Some cities like Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu, Bhadrachalam in Telangana and Sitamarhi in Bihar observe the festival with major celebrations. Some locations organize Rath-yatras or chariot processions, while some celebrate it as the wedding anniversary festival of Rama and Sita known as Kalyanotsavam. In Rameshwaram, devotees take a bath in the sea before performing prayers at the Ramanathaswamy temple.
After taking holy dip into river Sarayu, devotees visit Rama temple to participate in birthday celebrations in Ayodhya. This is supposed to purify the body and soul of the devotee.
Shri Ramacharitamanas, start a day earlier and culminate at noon on Ram Navami, which is considered to be the birth time of Lord Rama. At noon, a conch is blown to mark the birth of the Lord. The idol of Rama is given a bath and dressed in finery. Devotees place flowers at the feet of the Lord and then, rock the cradle in a form of worship.
Those who keep fast, eat only fruits or sweets made without any grain in North. Devotees eat a meal made with 'Kutuu' or 'Singhara' flour only after the birth of Lord Rama. However, in the South, certain food items are prepared on this day and offered to the Lord as Naivedyam before it is consumed by the others as a 'prasad'. These include 'Panakam'(a drink made with jaggery), 'Neer Mor'(buttermilk), 'Vadai Parupu'(a light moong dal salad) etc .
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