|Significance||Birthday of Rama|
|Observances||Puja, Vrata (fast), Ramayana recitation, Katha recitation, Havan, Dāna (charity), Satsanga, Bhajana singing|
|Date||māsa (amānta) / māsa (purnimānta), pakṣa, tithi|
|2022 date||Sunday, 10 April|
|2023 date||Thursday, 30 March|
Rama Navami (Sanskrit: राम नवमी) is a Hindu festival that celebrates the birthday of Rama, the seventh avatar of the deity Vishnu. The festival celebrates the descent of Vishnu as the Rama avatar, through his birth to King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya in Ayodhya, Kosala. This festival is a part of the Chaitra Navaratri in the spring, and falls on the ninth day of the bright half (Shukla Paksha) of Chaitra, the first month in the Hindu calendar. This typically occurs in the months of March or April by the Gregorian calendar. Rama Navami is an optional holiday for government employees in India.
The day is marked by Rama Katha recitals or reading of Rama stories, including the Hindu epic Ramayana which narrates the tale of Rama. Some Vaishnava Hindus visit a temple while others pray within their homes, and some participate in a bhajan or kirtan with music as a part of puja and aarti. Some devotees mark the event by taking miniature statues of the infant Rama, washing and clothing them, then placing them in cradles. Charitable events and community meals are also organized. The festival is an occasion for moral reflection for many Hindus. Some mark this day by vrata (fasting).
Important celebrations on this day take place at Ayodhya and numerous Rama temples all over India. Rathayatras, the chariot processions, of Rama, Sita, his brother Lakshmana and Hanuman, are taken out at several places. In Ayodhya, many take a dip in the sacred river Sarayu and then visit the Rama temple.
The day is the ninth and last day of Chaitra (Vasanta) Navaratri (not to be confused with the better-known autumn Navratri). It celebrates the birth of Vishnu's 7th avatar, Rama. It is marked by the faithful with puja (devotional worship) such as bhajan and kirtan, by fasting and reading passages about Rama's life. Special cities in the Ramayana legends about Rama's life observe major celebrations. These include Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh), Rameswaram (Tamil Nadu), Bhadrachalam (Telangana) and Sitamarhi (Bihar). Some locations organize Rath-yatras (chariot processions), while some celebrate it as the wedding anniversary festival (Kalyanotsavam) of Rama and Sita.
While the festival is named after Rama, the festival typically includes reverence for Sita, Lakshmana, and Hanuman, given their importance in Rama's life story. Some Vaishnavite Hindus observe the festival in Hindu temples, while others observe it within their homes. Surya, the Hindu sun god, is a part of the worship and ceremonies in some communities. Some Vaishnavite communities observe all nine days of Chaitra (Vasanta) Navaratri by remembering Rama and reading the Ramayana, with some temples organizing special discussion sessions in the evening. Charitable events to help those in need and community meals are organized by temples and Vaishnavite organizations, and for many Hindus, it is an occasion for moral reflection.
In Karnataka, Sri Ramanavami is celebrated by the local Mandalis (organizations) at some places, even on footpaths, by dispersing free panakam (a jaggery drink) and some food. Additionally, in Bengaluru, Karnataka, the Sree Ramaseva Mandali, R.C.T (R.) Chamrajpet, organizes India's most prestigious, month-long classical music festival. The uniqueness of this 80 year old musical extravaganza is that celebrated Indian classical musicians, irrespective of their religion, from both genres – Carnatic (South Indian) and Hindustani (North Indian) – descend down to offer their musical rendition to Rama and the assembled audience.
In eastern Indian states such as Odisha, Jharkhand, and West Bengal, the Jagannath temples and regional Vaishnava community observe Rama Navami, and treat it as the day when preparations begin for their annual Jagannath Ratha Yatra in summer.
Devotees associated with ISKCON fast through the daylight hours. 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 was however a notable calendar event on the traditional Gaurabda calendar with a specific additional requirement of fasting by devotees.
The significance of the festival is that it indicates the victory of good over evil and establishment of dharma to beat adharma. The Rama Navami festival celebration starts with jalam (water) offering in the early morning to Surya (the sun god) to propitatiate him. This is due to the belief that the descendants of Surya were the ancestors of Rama.
Rama Navami is one of the Hindu festivals that is celebrated by the Indian diaspora with roots in Uttar Pradesh and other states. The descendants of Indian indentured servants who were forced to leave India due to British-engineered famines and then promised jobs in colonial South Africa before 1910 in British-owned plantations and mines, and thereafter lived under the South African apartheid regime, continued to celebrate Rama Navami by reciting the Ramayana and by singing bhajans of Tyagaraja and Bhadrachala Ramdas. The tradition continues in contemporary times in the Hindu temples of Durban every year.
Similarly, in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Jamaica, other Caribbean countries, Mauritius, Malaysia, Singapore, and many other countries with Hindu descendants of colonial-era indentured workers forced to leave British India have continued to observe Rama Navami along with their other traditional festivals.
References and notes
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- The nine-day festival of Navratri leading up to Sri Rama Navami has bhajans, kirtans and discourses in store for devoteesArchived 7 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- Hindus around the world celebrate Ram Navami today, DNA, 8 April 2014
- James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 562. ISBN 978-0-8239-3180-4.
- Holiday Calendar Archived 28 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine, High Court of Karnataka, Government
- Ramnavami The Times of India, 2 April 2009.
- "President and PM greet people as India observes Ram Navami today". IANS. news.biharprabha.com. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
- Ramnavami Govt. of India Portal.
- On Ram Navami, we celebrate our love for the ideal Archived 7 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine Indian Express, Monday, 31 March 2003.
- Steven Rosen (2006). Essential Hinduism. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 212. ISBN 978-0-275-99006-0.
- Constance A Jones (2011). J. Gordon Melton (ed.). Religious Celebrations: An Encyclopedia of Holidays, Festivals, Solemn Observances, and Spiritual Commemorations. ABC-CLIO. pp. 739–740. ISBN 978-1-59884-206-7.
- "Sree Ramaseva Mandali, Retrospect | Our Impact". www.ramanavami.org.
- Logs for Trinity’s chariots arrive in Odisha’s Puri town, Odisha Sun Times (24 January 2016)
- Zaidman, N. (2000). "The Integration of Indian Immigrants to Temples Run by North Americans". Social Compass. 47 (2): 205–219. doi:10.1177/003776800047002005. S2CID 144392375.
Another example of a religious enterprise initiated by a board member was the organization of Lord Ramachandra Appearance Day (Sri Ram Navami).
- "SIGNIFICANCE OF RAM NAVAMI FESTIVAL". Speaking Tree.
- "Ram Navami: History, Significance and Importance of worshipping Lord Ram on last day of Chaitra Navratri". Jagran English. 30 March 2020. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
- "Ram Navami 2020 to be observed on 2 April: All you need to know about the festival, celebrations – India News , Firstpost". Firstpost. 1 April 2020. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
- Paula Richman (2008), Ways of Celebrating Ram's Birth: Ramayana Week in Durban, South Africa, Religions Of South Asia, Volume 2 Issue 2, pages 109–133
- Steven Vertovec (1992). Hindu Trinidad: Religion, Ethnicity and Socio-Economic Change. Macmillan Academic. p. 211. ISBN 978-0-333-53505-9.
- Brian A. Hatcher (2015). Hinduism in the Modern World. Routledge. pp. 116–117. ISBN 978-1-135-04631-6.