The birthday of Lord Rama, the celebrated
hero of the famous epic, 'Ramayana', is enthusiastically
celebrated on the ninth day of the waxing moon in the
month of Chiatra, all over India. Lord Vishnu is worshipped
in his human incarnation as Rama, the divine ruler of
Ayodhya. Celebrations begin with a prayer to the Sun
early in the morning. At midday, when Lord Rama is supposed
to have been born, a special prayer is performed. People
sing devotional songs in praise of Rama and rock, images
of him in a cradle to celebrate his birth. Rathyatras
or chariot processions of Ram, his wife Seeta, brother
Lakshman and devotee Hanuman are held from many temples.
People gather in thousands on the banks of the sacred
river Sarayu for a dip. Some observe a strict fast on
Ayodhya is the focus of great celebrations. Devotees
throng the temples of Ayodhya and Pondicherry,
two places closely connected with the events of
the Ramayana to participate in Ramnavami festivities.
Sri-Ramnavami is dedicated to the memory of Lord
Rama. It occurs on the ninth day (navami). The
festival commemorates the birth of Rama who is
remembered for his preperous and righteous reign.
Ramrajya (the reign of Rama) has become synonymous
with a period of peace and prosperity. Mahatma
Gandhi also used this term to describe how according
to him, India should be after independence.
Ramnavami occurs in the month of March. Celebrations
begin with a prayer to the Sun early in the morning.
At midday, when Lord Rama is supposed to have been born,
a special prayer is performed. In northern India especially,
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 Laxman, his queen Sita
and his disciple Hanuman. Several other persons dressed
up in ancient costumes as work by Rama's solders accompany
the chariot. The procession is a gusty affair with the
participants shouting praises echoing the happy days
of Rama's reign.
Surya - The Sun was recognised as the source of light
and heat even in ancient times. The importance of the
Sun was much more in the higher latitudes from where
the Aryans are supposed to have migrated into India.
Many royal dynasties portrayed symbols of virility like
the Sun, Eagle, Lion etc. as their progenitor. Rama's
dynasty considered them to have descended from the Sun.
This could have led to the tagging on, of Rama's birthday
to a festival devoted to the sun.
On the face of it Sri-Ramnavmi appears to be just a
festival commemorating the reign of a king who was later
deified. But even behind present-day traditions there
are clues, which unmistakably point to the origin of
Ramnavmi as lying beyond the Ramayana story.