Rama Navami (Sri Rama Navami) is celebrated to mark the day when the great Maryada Purushottam Ram Or Lord Rama was incarnated in Ayodhya as a human. Lord Rama is known to be the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu and is also known to embody the divinities of Lord Vishnu. Various ancient Indian scriptures accentuate how different Lords reincarnate themselves to obliterate the evil-minded and save the people from undeniable loss and grief. Ram Navami also originates from this as on this day Lord Rama took his seraphic human form or avatar.
On this auspicious day of Rama Navami prayers are offered to the absolute divine Rama. People gather and organize various devotional activities like Navami Aarti, Kirtans, Bhajans at temples or their own houses. Reciting the saintly Ramayana and reading or listening to the Shrimad Bhagavatam is done by the devotees as a reverence to Lord Rama. As per the Hindu calendar, Rama Navami gets celebrated on the ninth day of Shukla Paksha, (fortnight of the full moon) which means that it may fall in either the month of March or April as a segment of spring Navratri.
History of Rama Navami
Hinduism is the oldest known religion of the world and thus the festival of Rama Navami dates back to the pre-Christian era. Rama Navami comes among the most important festivals and is celebrated with utmost joy by the people. If we review our history, then the birth of Lord Rama took place in the year 5114 BC after the sincere prayers of Dashratha, the king of Ayodhya. The King had three wives Kausalya, Kaikeyi, and Sumitra, but even after several years, he remained without any male heir. Dashratha was worried about the future of his succession. After some time the King himself was offered help by the renowned sage Vasistha. Vasistha advised him to perform a Yagna known as Puthra Kamesti which is a ritual for obtaining children. By the orders of King Dashratha, the great sage Maharishi Rushya Shrunga assisted the ritual and performed it in the most elaborative and precise manner he could. After the ritual, the King received a bowl of milk and rice (known as payasam). This preparation was distributed by the King to his wives. However, the payasam was unevenly distributed as Kaikeyi and Kausalya got half portions of the whole preparation but gave their halves of the preparation to Sumitra. Thus, Sumitra bore twin boys while both Kaikeyi and Kausalya gave birth to a single child each. The first baby was born in spring and the Royal family along with every resident of Ayodhya were overjoyed. The newborn baby of Kausalya was named ‘Lord Rama’.
In ancient scripture, Ramayana, the great sage and poet Valmiki mention Rama to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu. He also regarded him as the savior of mankind, destroyer of evil powers and the protector of innocent souls. People worship him so sincerely as Lord Rama executed the evil ‘King Ravana’ of Lanka. Not only this, but Lord Rama also proved himself as a protector of humankind through many of his astonishing deeds.
It is known that when Rama finally returned from his 14 years of exile he was crowned as the King. Supposedly after this people began paying him respect for safeguarding their lives by celebrating the birthday of their beloved king.
Significance of Rama Navami
People celebrate the festival of Rama Navami to ultimately devote themselves to Lord Rama. They pay their special reverence to Lord Rama on this day because they believe that Lord Rama will always protect them and will always keep them away from negative people or evil energies.
The name ‘Rama’ refers to the ‘divine light within us’. This signifies that Lord Rama will always reside within us as a light in our hearts (‘ra‘ means light and ‘ma‘ means within). The city of Ayodhya which is the birthplace of Lord Rama also carries significance in its name. The letter ‘A’ which is placed before ‘Yodhya’ works as a negative prefix for the word which means ‘war’. Hence the word ‘Ayodhya’ denotes a place with no war and just prosperity, justice and well being of people.
The war between Rama and Ravana occurred in the ‘Treta Yuga’ which reflected the universal message that good always wins over evil. Lord Rama is a true epitome of the divine soul and mind. This is the reason why Rama Navami is known and acknowledged among most Indians irrespective of their caste, religion or creed. Rama is considered a God who vanquished the Ravana when Ravana became so over-indulged by his powers that he started wreaking everything. Lord Rama saved the people from his havoc and brought back glory to the people. This is the reason why people have so much faith in him and respect him so much with all their hearts. Thus, Rama Navami can be truly considered a very important and significant festival for Indians.
Celebrations of Rama Navami
Rama Navami is also referred to as ‘Chaitra Shuklapaksha’ or ‘Masa Navami’. It arrives on the 9th day of Navratri and marks the end of it by celebrating Sri Rama Navaratra. People gather and celebrate the birthday of their beloved Lord Rama with pure devotion and respect. Devotees take active participation in Bhajans and Kirtans. All the temples are adorned with flowers, beautifully decorated and after these aartis are carried out by chanting holy ‘Vedic mantras’. The festival is very popular all over India but few cities celebrate it in remarkable ways. The city of Ayodhya is the birthplace of Rama sparkles on this day. Thousands of devotees take baths and dip in the holy River of Ayodhya. This bath is known to clean the sins of people to give them a fresh start. Also, the city of Sitamarhi, in Bihar (Sita Samhit Sthal) and Bhadrachalam situated in Telangana celebrate Rama Navami with extraordinary pomp and zest.
People break their Navratri fast on this day. It is believed that fasting pleases Lord Rama and provides them salvation. The main basic events recognized are:
Kalyanam: Celebration of Rama-Sita’s marriage
Panakam: Preparation of a sweet dish to offer Lord Rama
Procession: Celebration by playing with colors and water.
Rama Navami signifies that Lord Rama is always with us as a light in our hearts and will always guard us against evil.