The festival of Ram Navami is the celebration of birthday of the Hindu God, Shri Ram. Shri Ram was the seventh incarnation (Avatar) of Lord Vishnu and born in Ayodha, an ancient Indian city. Rama Navami is celebrated on the ninth day of Hindu month of Chaitra (April). Ram Navami marks the end of nine day long festival called Chaitra Navratri or Vasanta Navratri. On this auspicious day devotees observes fasting, visits temples to offer special prayers, takes religious processions and the special readings of Ramayana are also hold.
Ram Navami is celebrated with religious fervour. On this day, people observe a fast. Many devotees fast for nine days. In all the Ram mandirs, Aarti and Pooja are performed during the noon hours, the time of Lord Rama's birth. At the end of the rites and rituals, which includes abhishek of Lord Rama and Shiva and chanting of Bhajans, the priest performs the peace chant with sprinkling of consecrated water. Prasad of sweets and fruits is given to people attending the pooja. Many devotees stay awake on the previous night, in anticipation of Lord Ram's birth. A havan is performed and they sing devotional songs in praise of Lord Ram and rock his image in cradles to celebrate his birth.
On Ram Navami day, all the Ram temples are beautifully decorated. the idols of Lord Ram, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshman are adorned with new clothes, jewellery and flowers. Devotees visit various Ram mandirs and offer sweets, flowers and fruits. Selected chapters on Ramlila of Ramayan are read, the most popular version being Tulsidas's Ramacharitmanas. A huge fair is held in Ayodhya on Ram Navami day, where thousands of devotees gather to celebrate this festival. Pondicherry is another place where many pilgrims visit the Ram temples. Processions accompanied by splendid floats of Rama, his wife Sita, his brother Lakshman and his monkey-general, Hanuman are carried out with great zest.
Legends of Ram Navami
Lord Vishnu took the seventh avatar as Lord Ram to destroy the demon King Ravana. Ravana was very powerful and his tyranny knew no bounds. Sages were not able to perform their rituals under his reign. So, to destroy Ravana, Lord Vishnu took his seven avtaar as the son of Kaushalya, the first queen of king Dasharath. The king had two other queens, Kaikeyi and Sumitra and three children from them - Bharat, Lakshman and Shatrughna.
In course of time, Ram married Sita. Dasharath planned to declare Ram as the crown prince of Koshal. Being the eldest son and rightful heir to his father, he stepped down for his step-brother, Bharat, Kaikeyi's son, to please his foster-mother. He was banished to the forest for 14 long years. His wife Sita and brother Lakshman followed with him during the banishment period. In the forest, Sita was abducted by Ravana, which resulted in a great war between Ram and Ravana. At the end, aided by a band of monkeys, the most loyal of whom is Lord Hanuman, Ram, killed Ravana. Ram completed his period of exile and came back to Ayodhya to rule the kingdom. Ram’s life, as described in Ramayana, sets an example of a dutiful virtuous life for an Indian. The legend is cited to prove how Lord Rama always lived a life of righteousness (dharma). Lord Rama is known as Maryaada Purushottam. His life exemplifies the ideal son, ideal husband and ideal ruler. Lord Ram was the true embodiment of humanity. Ram Navami is a therefore a special reminder of the noble ideals for which Lord Ram stood.