|Significance||Birthday of Rama|
|Observances||Puja, Vrata (fast), recitation of the Ramayana and other versions, charity, and bhajan|
|Date||Chaitra Shukla Navami|
|2023 date||Thursday,30 March|
|2024 date||Wednesday,17 April|
Rama Navami (Sanskrit: राम नवमी, romanized: Rāmanavamī) is a Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Rama, one the most popularly revered deities in Hinduism, also known as the seventh avatar of Vishnu. He is often held as an emblem within Hinduism for being an ideal king and human through his righteousness, good conduct and virtue. The festival falls on the ninth day of the bright half (Shukla Paksha) of the lunar cycle of Chaitra (March–April), the first month in the Hindu calendar. It is also part of the Chaitra Navaratri festival in spring. Rama Navami is a holiday for government employees in India.
The rituals and customs associated with Rama Navami vary from region to region throughout India. The day is marked by reciting from the Hindu epic Ramayana which narrates the tale of Rama. Vaishnava Hindus celebrate the festival by visiting temples, praying, fasting, listening to spiritual discourses and singing bhajans or kirtans (devotional songs). Some devotees offer worship to Rama like an infant by placing an image of him in a cradle. Charitable events and community meals are also organized. The festival is an occasion for moral reflection for many Hindus.
Important celebrations on this day take place at Ayodhya and numerous Rama temples all over India. Ratha yatras (chariot processions) of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, and Hanuman occur at several places. In Ayodhya, many take a dip in the sacred river Sarayu and then visit the Rama temple.
Details regarding the birth of Rama is mentioned in Valmiki's Ramayana and the Mahabharata. As noted, Rama was born to King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya in the city of Ayodhya. King Dasharatha had a total of three wives, Kausalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra, but remained sonless for many years. Desperate for an heir, Dasharatha organized a sacrifice to be conducted under the authority of the sage, Rishyasringa, which concluded with a celestial figure that emerged from a fire with a pot of rice and milk. As instructed, the king divided the contents of the pot among his wives to drink. As a result, Kausalya gave birth to Rama, Kaikeyi gave birth to Bharata and Sumitra bore twins - Lakshmana and Shatrughna. Thus, with the birth of four sons, Dasharatha's desire was fulfilled.
Celebrations and rituals
A number of cities mentioned in the Ramayana legends about Rama's life observe major celebrations. These include Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh), Rameswaram (Tamil Nadu), Bhadrachalam (Telangana) and Sitamarhi (Bihar).
The rituals and customs associated with Rama Navami vary from region to region throughout India. Many of these traditions include reading and listening to discourses from the Ramayana, organizing ratha yatras (chariot processions), charitable events, hosting a marriage procession (kalyanotsavam) of Rama and Sita, and offering reverence to Sita, Lakshmana, and Hanuman who have played important roles in Rama's life story. Surya, the Hindu sun god, is also offered worship in some communities.
In Karnataka, Rama Navami is celebrated by the local mandalis (organizations) and streets, 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 throughout the day. 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.
During Ram Navami, reading or listening from literature about Rama is a common practice. Reading the entire Ramayana (Hindu epic entailing the adventures of Rama) for a week leading up to Rama Navami is organized. The earliest version of the text was composed by the sage Valmiki.
Tulsidas's Ramcharitmanas, a later version of the Ramayana written in the vernacular of that time, is also popularly recited. The start of the composition of the Ramcharitmanas began on Rama Navami.
A public dramatic performance, known as Ramlila, is annually hosted on the festivals of Ram Navami and Vijayadashami. Ram lila encapsulates the story of Rama through music, drama, dance and various other mediums. The enactments of Ramlila are inspired by the Tulsidas's Ramcharitmanas.
Outside of India
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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- Dalal, Roshen (18 April 2014). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin UK. pp. 1571–1580. ISBN 978-81-8475-277-9.
- 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
- James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z. The Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 558–559. ISBN 978-0-8239-3180-4.
- Holiday Calendar Archived 28 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine, High Court of Karnataka, Government
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- On Ram Navami, we celebrate our love for the ideal Archived 7 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine Indian Express, Monday, 31 March 2003.
- Lochtefeld, James G. (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M. Rosen. p. 175. ISBN 978-0-8239-3179-8.
- 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.
- Steven Rosen (2006). Essential Hinduism. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 212. ISBN 978-0-275-99006-0.
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- Logs for Trinity’s chariots arrive in Odisha’s Puri town, Odisha Sun Times (24 January 2016)
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Another example of a religious enterprise initiated by a board member was the organization of Lord Ramachandra Appearance Day (Sri Ram Navami).
- Jones, Constance A.; Ryan, James D. (2007). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. New York: Facts On File. p. 353. ISBN 978-0-8160-5458-9.
- "Ram Navami 2023: Date, Shubh Muhurat, History, Puja Vidhi, Celebration and Significance". The Times of India. 31 March 2023. ISSN 0971-8257. Retrieved 5 April 2023.
- Dole, Manoj. Great Indian Sant. Manoj Dole. p. 148.
- Mohapatra, J. (24 December 2013). Wellness in Indian Festivals & Rituals: Since the Supreme Divine Is Manifested in All the Gods, Worship of Any God Is Quite Legitimate. Partridge Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4828-1689-1.
- Kasbekar, Asha (2006). Pop Culture India!: Media, Arts, and Lifestyle. ABC-CLIO. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-85109-636-7.
- Mohapatra, J. (24 December 2013). Wellness in Indian Festivals & Rituals: Since the Supreme Divine Is Manifested in All the Gods, Worship of Any God Is Quite Legitimate. Partridge Publishing. p. 94. ISBN 978-1-4828-1689-1.
- "Ram Navami 2020 to be observed on 2 April: All you need to know about the festival, celebrations". 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.