Rama navami is a Hindu festival, celebrating the birth of the god Rama to King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya in Ayodhya. Rama, the 7th avatar of Vishnu, is the oldest known god having human form. The holy day falls in the Shukla Paksha on the Navami, the ninth day of the month of Chaitra in the Hindu calendar. Thus it is also known as Chaitra Masa Suklapaksha Navami, and marks the end of the nine-day Chaitra-Navaratri (Vasanta Navaratri) celebrations. Rama navami is one of the most important Hindu festivals.
In the epic Ramayana, 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 & 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. 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 & 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. Hence the mahamantra:
!! Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare !!
!! Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare !!
Determination of Date
In Ayodhya Ramnavami is celebrated on Chaitra Shukla Navami falling during Noon (madhyahan). If Chaitra Shukla Navami gets extended to two days and falls or does not fall during Madhyahana then it is celebrated on second day.
How to Celebrate
It is marked by continuous recitals, Akhand Paath, mostly of the Ramacharitamanas, organized several days in advance to culminate on this day, with elaborate bhajan, kirtan and distribution of prasad after the puja and aarti. Images of the infant Rama are placed on cradles and rocked by devotees. Community meals are also organized. Since Rama is believed to have been born at noon, temples and family shrines are elaborately decorated and traditional prayers are chanted together by the family in the morning. Also, at temples, special havans are organized, along with Vedic chanting of mantras and offerings of fruits and flowers. Many followers mark this day by vrata (fasting) through the day followed by feasting in the evening, or at the culmination of celebrations. 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.
The important celebrations on this day take place at Ayodhya (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.
Followers of Hinduism in South India normally perform Kalyanotsavam (marriage celebration) with small deities of Rama and Sita in their homes, and at the end of the day the deity is taken to a procession on the streets. This day also marks the end of the nine-day utsava called Chaitra Navaratri (Maharashtra) or Vasanthothsava (Telangana, Andra pradesh, Karnataka & Tamil Nadu) (festival of Spring), which starts with Gudi Padwa (Maharashtra). According to recent astrological studies, some consider his date of birth to be January 10, 5114 BC
A Home temple with deities of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman, on Sri Rama Navami
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.
Procession of murtis in the evening, accompanied by playing with water and colours.
For the occasion, Followers of Hinduism fast or restrict themselves to a specific diet in accordance to VedaDharma. Vedic temples are decorated and readings of the Ramayana take place. Along with SriRama, people also worship Sita, Rama's wife; Lakshmana, Rama's brother; and Hanuman, an ardent devotee of Rama and the leader of his army in the battle against the rakshasa Ravana, the Brahmin king of Lanka.
Some people put a small idol of Rama in a cradle, symbolising the significance of the day and offer prayers to it. Community meals are also organised.
Sri Ramanavami Kalyanam utsava at Bhadrachalam Temple, in Telangana
The Kalyanam performed in the Bhadrachalam Temple, in Telangana is very famous.
A number of ISKCON temples introduced a more prominent celebration of the occasion of the holiday with the view of addressing needs of growing native Hindu congregation. It is however always was a notable calendar event on the traditional Gaurabda calendar with a specific additional requirement of fasting by devotees.
Sri Rama Navami is shared with Swaminarayan Jayanti, the birth of Swaminarayan, who was born in the village of Chhapaiya in the state of Uttar Pradesh.