(Last Updated on : 10/03/2011)
Ramnavami falls on the ninth lunar day of the bright fortnight of Chaitra that is observed with great sanctity and fasting. It is a nine-day festival, coinciding with Vasant Navaratri
. Devotees stay awake on the ninth night, in anticipation of Lord Rama
`s birth and the devotees rock his image in cradles to celebrate his birth. For this festival, temples are decorated and the image of Lord Rama is richly adorned and the Ramayana is read out in temples. This is one of the five Mahavratas observed since ancient times. Traditional worship begins with chanting Vedic mantras dedicated to Vishnu, and offering flowers and fruits to the god. Excerpts from the "Ramacharitamanas", praising Lord Ram, are also recited. Lord Ram`s devotees fast for nine days with fruit and milk, whilst some fast on the ninth day only.
In homes, family members bathe early in the morning. The youngest female member of the household leads the Puja
(prayers) by applying a red tilak (mark) to all the other members of the family before everyone joins together in worship. Offerings of fruit and flowers are placed on the family shrine and prayers are recited. An image or picture of baby Rama is placed in a covered cradle. At noon, the covering is removed and Naivedya is offered to Rama. Celebrations begin with a prayer to the Sun early in the morning. At midday, when Lord Ram is supposed to have been born, a special prayer is performed. In northern India especially, an event that draws popular participation is the Ramnavami procession. The main attraction in this procession is a gaily-decorated chariot in which four persons are dressed up as Ram, his brother Lakshmana, his queen Sita and his disciple Lord Hanuman
Ramnavami celebrations are popular in Uttar Pradesh
. In all Vaishnava temples, as the sun rises, a coconut is placed in the cradle and at midday the priest announces the birth of Rama. According to ancient texts anyone who does not fast on this day will go to the hell. It is also said, that Ram fulfills the wishes of all those who pray to him on this day. On this day even the effigies of Ravana
(Ravana`s brother), Meghnad (Ravana`s son) are burned. There are stage shows depicting tales from Ramayana
known as Ramlila. Even today Lord Rama serves as an inspiration to many Hindus.