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Ram Navami is a Hindu or Vedic festival which is celebrated every year with great flair and enthusiasm on the last day of Chaitra Navaratri. People celebrate Ram Navami to mark the birth of Lord Ram ( Lord Rama). Many believe that Lord Ram was born in Ayodhya on this day while many others are of the opinion that Lord Ram was himself a “divine incarnation” of Lord Vishnu and he came down from up above the heaven and made an appearance in Ayodhya in the form of Ram as a newborn baby.
Every year, during the month of March-April, one can notice a variety of activities happening in the pilgrimages and religious places where millions of Hindu takes part in various religious activities. They go about conducting these activities with faith in their hearts and devotion in their minds. It should be no surprise for anybody as people are fully aware that the Hindu month of Chaitra is around the corner and Ram Navami, one of the prominent festivals, is celebrated in Shukla Paksha.
It is commonly believed by many faithful Hindus that on a similar day in 5114 BC, the prayers of Dasharatha, the king of Ayodhya( an ancient state in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India) was answered finally. Dasharatha had three wives named Kausalya, Sumitra, and Kaikeyi but unfortunately, none of the three could bore him a male child which he was longing for so badly. The king needed a male child to preserve his dynasty and be the heir to his throne. After several years of marriage, Dasharatha was unable to be a father of a male child and the great sage Vasistha recommended to him that he should perform Puthra Kamesti Yagna, a popular sacred ritual carried out to procure an offspring. Under the watchful eyes of the king, the great sage Maharshi Rushya Srunga performed the rituals of the yagna in the grandest and detailed manner possible. The king was given a bowl of payasam(a preparation of milk & rice) and he was instructed to distribute the payasam among his three wives. The king gave half of the payasam to his elder wife Kausalya, and the other half to his younger wife, Kaikeyi. Both the wives gave half of the payasam that they were given to the king’s third wife, Sumitra. The unequal distribution and consumption of the sacred food, payasam resulted in Kausalya & Kaikeyi giving birth to one son each and Sumitra gave birth to twin sons.
It was one of those days wherein the people of Ayodhya which included not only the royal family members but also the local residents, heaved a sigh of relief and thanked the God for this amazing miracle. They knew very little that God himself was present among them in the form of Rama, as the newborn son of Kausalya. One can find a host of other events mentioned in the great Hindu epic Ramayana(written by Valmiki, an ancient sage and Sanskrit poet) and here he has described Rama as the seventh incarnation of the supreme God Lord Vishnu. It is believed that he was born on earth to restore mankind to its previous glory, to eradicate the evil and protect the innocent.
Lord Rama or Ram Chandra as he is known and his awe-inspiring battle with the demon-king of Lanka, Ravana and his army and many other spectacular deeds must have proved his divine status before the people. When Rama became the king, out of sheer love and devotion towards their godly ruler, people of Ayodhya started celebrating his birthday and the occasion is known as Ram Navami ever since. As claimed by many renowned historians, the initiation of Ram Navami celebration can be traced back to the pre-Christian era and Ram was born somewhere around 5114 BC. So, it can be safely said that the first time Ram Navami was ever celebrated must have been around the same time. One can find the description of the celebration of Ram Navami in the sacred book “Kalika Puran”. The festival of Ram Navami is given so much of significance that even in the times wherein caste system was prevalent in the country, the Shudras, people who belong to the lower case, were allowed to mingle with the normal crowd and indulge themselves in the celebration of Ram Navami. It is a common faith among people that fasting on the occasion of Ram Navami purifies the mind and soul greatly which paves the way to attain Nirvana or salvation.
As we already know, Ram Navami is celebrated to mark the occasion of the birth of Lord Ram. People celebrate it on the ninth day of Shukla Paksha(or the brighter phase of the lunar fortnight)in the month of Chaitra(Mid-March) of the Hindu calendar. This festival usually gets celebrated in the Gregorian months(the most commonly used calendar world over) of March or April each year. The reason why Ram Navami falls on a different date each year is due to the reason that it is based on the Hindu or Lunar calendar in which every month consists of only 28 days(as per the Lunar cycle). Due to this very reason, the day and date change every year on the Gregorian calendar which is used worldwide today.
A prayer or puja vidhi is performed as per the scriptures on the occasion of Ram Navami and people consider it as auspicious. The Ram Navami puja include the sthapana or installation of the Kalash as well as the panchang. The Rama Navami puja includes Gauri Ganesh,Punyavachan, Shodash Matrika, Navgraha, and Sarvotabhadra. The puja also include the Yogini Pujan(64 times), Shetrapal Pujan, Swasti Vachan, and Sankalpa.The puja of Ram Navami also includes chanting of each planetary mantra for 108 times, Rama Raksha Strota for 108 times, the Rama-Sita pujan and people also recite the Suderkand paath. Finally, the Ram Navami puja ends with a yagna, aarti and pushpaanjali. India is a land of a variety of festivals and festivals like Ram Navami presents us with an opportunity to recall the great adventures of the life tales of Lord Ram & it gives us a chance to spend time with our nearer & dearer ones.
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