(Last Updated on : 01/10/2014)
Ramnavami is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Lord Rama
, son of King Dasaratha
and Queen Kausalya of Ayodhya
. Rama is believed to be the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu
. Ramnavami also marks the last day of Chaitra Navratri celebrations which continues for nine days. As Lord Rama personifies morality, goodness and truth, this festival holds a significant place among Hindus and is celebrated with great religious fervour. It is also known as Chaitra Masa Suklapaksha Navami.
Origin of Ramnavami
Myths say that Lord Vishnu incarnated in human form as Lord Rama on earth to battle against the demon King Ravana
, who was bestowing havocs on the earth. Ravana was invincible, as he had received several boons from Lord Brahma
and consequently could not be killed by any God. Ravana was too overconfident and never expected any human to attack him. Thus, Lord Vishnu went to the earth in the avatar of Lord Rama, where he defeated Ravana.
Rituals and Celebrations of Ramnavami
Ramnavami falls on the ninth lunar day of the bright fortnight of Chaitra
, a month in Hindu calendar
, and 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 rock his image in cradles to celebrate his birth. For this festival, temples are decorated exquisitely, the image of Lord Rama is richly adorned and the Ramayana
is read out in temples. 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 Rama's devotees fast for nine days with fruit and milk
, whilst some fast on the ninth day only. This is one of the five Mahavratas observed since ancient times.
At homes, the 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 fruits 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, 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 Rama, 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 goes to hell. It is also said that Ram fulfils the wishes of all those who pray to him on this day. On Ramnavami 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.