Sri Rama Navami Festival

Rama Navami is one of the most important Hindu festivals which is celebrated on 15th April on Chaitra Navami also known as Chaitra Masa Suklapaksha Navami, 9th day of Chaitra month which falls on shukla paksha on Navami the end day of 9 days called Chaitra Navarathri on account of the birth of Lord Rama to King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya in Ayodhya. This day is also marked as the Marriage ceremony of Rama and Sita. Rama, the 7th avatar of Vishnu, is one of the oldest avatars of Lord Vishnu having a human form.

Vishnu himself born as Rama

Vishnu himself born as Rama

Lord Rama's Childhood

Lord Rama's Childhood

Sita Rama Kalyanam

Sita Rama Kalyanam

The list of Dashavatara varies across sects and regions. The standard list is: Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parashurama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha and Kalki. Sometimes, Krishna replaces Vishnu as the source of all avatars and Balarama takes Krishna's place in the list.

Dashavatar of Maha Vishnu

Dashavatar of Maha Vishnu

Rama Navami is celebrated doing pujas,vrata,fast,bhajans,kirtans,vedic chanting of Mantras,mostly of the 'Ramayana' or Tulsidas's 'Ramacharitmanas', and distribution of prasad after the puja and aarti also followed by meals(feasting) to the devotees in some Temples and Pandals organised by devotees.Eight Prahar fasting is suggested during Rama Navami. Which means devotees should observe the fast from sunrise to sunrise. Sundarakandam in Ramayana, is the favourite of Rama and Hanuman. Hence the rendition of it is considered the special offering.

Rama Navami Vrat can be observed in three different ways:

*casual -which can be observed without any cause,
*continual - which can be observed throughout life without any desire and
*desirable - which can be observed to fulfill any desire.

In the Epic Ramayana written by Valmiki, Dasharatha,the Emperor from Ayodhya,had three wives named Kausalya,Sumitra and Kaikeyi in the Treta Yuga (which follows the Satya Yuga and succeeded by the Dwapara Yuga). Rama is born to Kaushalya,Lakshmana and Shatrughna to Sumitra and Bharata to Kaikeyi. Rama is known as 'Maryada Purushottam' which means an ideal, righteous and a great or a perfect human being, being the best son, brother,husband and father.

Ramayna by Valmiki

Ramayna by Valmiki

Rama who takes birth by his own will, on Bhuloka (Earth) when Adharma rules over Dharma. He protects all his devotees by vanquishing the roots of Adharma. Vishnu decided to incarnate, as Rama, to destroy the Asura (person with demonic and evil designs) called Ravana who is a Brahmin king of Lanka. Lord Rama and Lord Krishna are the only gods in Hinduism or Aryan Vedic context that really existed (and some gods are their manifestations or devotees) and all others are mythological figures based on Puranas. In Ramayanam 14 years vanavaasam to Sri Rama was ordered by King Dsarathan in order to grant one of the boons to his Kaikeyi. Rama obeyed his father with full respect and so called Pitru vakhya paripalanam (honouring father's words) is one of the highlights of Ramayana. Therefore there is no doubt that Rama obeyed His father's commands. Dasaratha wanted to be sathya dharma and so he ordered Rama to go to forest for 14 years as wished by Kaikeyi. Thus Pattabhishekam of Lord Rama was done when he completed his Vanvasam with Devi Sita and Laxmana in forest and returned to Ayodhya after completion of 14 years.

Celebration in different places:

Ayodhya being the birth place of Rama celebrates Rama Navami(Uttar Pradesh) Sita Samahit Sthal (Sitamarhi) (Bihar), Bhadrachalam (Telangana) and Rameswaram (Tamil Nadu), thronged by thousands of devotees. Rathayatras, the chariot processions, also known as Shobha yatras of Rama, Sita, his brother Lakshmana and Hanuman, are taken out at several places,including Ayodhya where thousands of people take a dip in the sacred river Sarayu.

In South India,in Bhadrachalam the day is also celebrated as the wedding anniversary of Rama and his consort Sita. Sitarama Kalyanam, the ceremonial wedding ceremony of the divine couple is held at temples throughout the south region, with great fanfare and accompanied by group chanting of name of Rama.

Sita Rama Kalyanam Bhadrachalam

Sita Rama Kalyanam Bhadrachalam

In Rishikesh, which is an important seat of Ram worship, special payers dedicated to Lord Rama, japas and constant chantings invoking Lord Rama's name is a common practice. Mantras like 'Om Sri Ram', 'Jai Sri Ram' raise the higher energies around the place.

The World famous ISCKON Temple also celebrates this Ram Navami day by doing bhajans and addressing needs of growing native Hindu congregation,fasting by devotees and chanting the Main Mantra:

ISCKON Temple in Mumbai

ISCKON Temple in Mumbai

II Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare IIII Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare II

This day also marks the end of the nine-day utsava called Chaitra Navaratri (Maharashtra) or Vasanthothsava (Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu) (festival of Spring), which starts with Gudi Padwa (Maharashtra).

The Natal chart of Rama by Valmiki:

Valmiki in his Sanskrit text Ramayana describes the natal or birth chart of young Rama,and this day is celebrated as Ramanavami festival throughout India and amongst Indian diaspora:

“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.”

Can be read — Book I: Bala Kanda, Ramayana by Valmiki, Chapter (Sarga) 18, verses 8, 9, 10 and 11

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.
*Vadapappu,the distribution of soaked moong dal as prasadam.
*Procession of murtis in the evening,accompanied by playing with water and colours.

Panakam and Vadapappu as prasadam on Rama Navami

Panakam and Vadapappu as prasadam on Rama Navami

Chariot Procession of Lord Rama with Sita Laxmana and Hanuman

Chariot Procession of Lord Rama with Sita Laxmana and Hanuman

Some Popular Rama Temples to Visit:

 

Vontimitta Lord Rama Temple,Cudappa,Andhra Pradesh

Rama Temple in Tamilnadu

Rama Teertha,Lord Rama Temple, AndhraPradesh

 

Image Courtesy: Google

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