All Over India Festivals
Ram Navmi

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 this day.

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.

 


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