Rama Navami (Sanskrit: राम नवमी, romanizedRāmanavamī) 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.[3][4][5] He is often held as an emblem within Hinduism for being an ideal king and human through his righteousness, good conduct and virtue.[5][6] 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.[7] It is also part of the Chaitra Navaratri festival in spring.[8] Rama Navami is a holiday for government employees in India.[9]

Rama Navami
Rama worshipped with consort Sita and brother Lakshmana on Rama Navami
TypeHindu
SignificanceBirthday of Rama
ObservancesPuja, Vrata (fast), recitation of the Ramayana and other versions, charity, and bhajan
DateChaitra Shukla Navami
2023 dateThursday,30 March[1]
2024 dateWednesday,17 April[2]
FrequencyAnnual
Explanatory note
Hindu festival dates

The Hindu calendar is lunisolar but most festival dates are specified using the lunar portion of the calendar. A lunar day is uniquely identified by three calendar elements: māsa (lunar month), pakṣa (lunar fortnight) and tithi (lunar day).

Furthermore, when specifying the masa, one of two traditions are applicable, viz. amānta / pūrṇimānta. If a festival falls in the waning phase of the moon, these two traditions identify the same lunar day as falling in two different (but successive) masa.

A lunar year is shorter than a solar year by about eleven days. As a result, most Hindu festivals occur on different days in successive years on the Gregorian calendar.

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.[10] Vaishnava Hindus celebrate the festival by visiting temples, praying, fasting, listening to spiritual discourses and singing bhajans or kirtans (devotional songs).[3][8][11] Some devotees offer worship to Rama like an infant by placing an image of him in a cradle.[10] Charitable events and community meals are also organized. The festival is an occasion for moral reflection for many Hindus.[3][12]

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.[3][13] In Ayodhya, many take a dip in the sacred river Sarayu and then visit the Rama temple.[4]

Birth edit

Details regarding the birth of Rama is mentioned in Valmiki's Ramayana and the Mahabharata.[6] 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.[14]

Celebrations and rituals edit

 
Baby Rama in a cradle at Chinawal village temple, Maharashtra

A number of cities mentioned in the Ramayana legends about Rama's life observe major celebrations.[8] These include Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh),[8] 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,[15] organizing ratha yatras (chariot processions), charitable events, hosting a marriage procession (kalyanotsavam) of Rama and Sita,[4] and offering reverence to Sita, Lakshmana, and Hanuman who have played important roles in Rama's life story.[16] Surya, the Hindu sun god, is also offered worship in some communities.[15]

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.[17]

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.[18]

Devotees associated with ISKCON fast throughout the day.[15] 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.[19]

'Surya Tilak' on Ram Navami

Indian scientists have created an intricate system to direct the sunlight so that it falls on Ram Lalla's forehead on every Ram Navami. The mechanism has been installed at Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.[20]

Literature edit

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)[21] for a week leading up to Rama Navami is organized.[3][10] The earliest version of the text was composed by the sage Valmiki.[8]

 
Bhadrachalam temple in Telangana is one of the major Rama Navami celebration sites.[4]

Tulsidas's Ramcharitmanas, a later version of the Ramayana written in the vernacular of that time, is also popularly recited.[22] The start of the composition of the Ramcharitmanas began on Rama Navami.[23]

Drama edit

A public dramatic performance, known as Ramlila, is annually hosted on the festivals of Ram Navami and Vijayadashami.[24][25] Ram lila encapsulates the story of Rama through music, drama, dance and various other mediums.[26] The enactments of Ramlila are inspired by the Tulsidas's Ramcharitmanas.[8]

Outside of India edit

Rama Navami is one of the Hindu festivals that is celebrated by the Indian diaspora with roots in Uttar Pradesh and other states.[27] 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.[28]

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.[29]

It is also celebrated by Hindus in Fiji and Fiji Hindus who have re-migrated elsewhere.[30]

See also edit

References and notes edit

  1. ^ "Rama Navami". www.allindianfestivals.in. 9 January 2021. Retrieved 21 February 2022.
  2. ^ "Chaitra Navratri 2023: Is Chaitra Navratri beginning on March 21 or 22? Find the correct date of the Hindu festival". hindustantimes.com. 19 March 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Religions - Hinduism: Rama Navami". BBC. 28 August 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d Hindus around the world celebrate Ram Navami today, DNA, 8 April 2014
  5. ^ a b "Rama | Description, Symbolism, Meaning, & Facts | Britannica". www.britannica.com. 30 March 2023. Retrieved 20 May 2023.
  6. ^ a b Dalal, Roshen (18 April 2014). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin UK. pp. 1571–1580. ISBN 978-81-8475-277-9.
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ a b c d e f James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z. The Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 558–559. ISBN 978-0-8239-3180-4.
  9. ^ Holiday Calendar Archived 28 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine, High Court of Karnataka, Government
  10. ^ a b c Robinson, James B. (2009). Hinduism. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4381-0641-0.
  11. ^ Ramnavami The Times of India, 2 April 2009.
  12. ^ "President and PM greet people as India observes Ram Navami today". IANS. news.biharprabha.com. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  13. ^ On Ram Navami, we celebrate our love for the ideal Archived 7 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine Indian Express, Monday, 31 March 2003.
  14. ^ Lochtefeld, James G. (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M. Rosen. p. 175. ISBN 978-0-8239-3179-8.
  15. ^ a b c 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.
  16. ^ Steven Rosen (2006). Essential Hinduism. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 212. ISBN 978-0-275-99006-0.
  17. ^ "Sree Ramaseva Mandali, Retrospect | Our Impact". www.ramanavami.org.
  18. ^ Logs for Trinity’s chariots arrive in Odisha’s Puri town, Odisha Sun Times (24 January 2016)
  19. ^ 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).
  20. ^ "Ayodhya Ram Mandir: Facts And Details You Must Know". Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  21. ^ Jones, Constance A.; Ryan, James D. (2007). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. New York: Facts On File. p. 353. ISBN 978-0-8160-5458-9.
  22. ^ "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.
  23. ^ Dole, Manoj. Great Indian Sant. Manoj Dole. p. 148.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ Kasbekar, Asha (2006). Pop Culture India!: Media, Arts, and Lifestyle. ABC-CLIO. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-85109-636-7.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ "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.
  28. ^ 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
  29. ^ Steven Vertovec (1992). Hindu Trinidad: Religion, Ethnicity and Socio-Economic Change. Macmillan Academic. p. 211. ISBN 978-0-333-53505-9.
  30. ^ Brian A. Hatcher (2015). Hinduism in the Modern World. Routledge. pp. 116–117. ISBN 978-1-135-04631-6.

External links edit