By NHSF (UK) Learning Team

Ramnavmi, the birth of Shree Rama, is celebrated on the ninth day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month of Chaitra. In some parts of India it is a nine-day festival, coinciding with the Vasanta Navratri, and many people fast over this period.

Glory of Shree Rama

Shree Rama is the 7th incarnation of Lord Vishnu, into the Ikshvaaku lineage of King Dasharath of Ayodhya. Shree Rama is known as Maryaada Purushottama, the perfect man or Lord of Self-Control, as his life exemplifies the ideal son, ideal brother, ideal husband and ideal ruler. Shree Rama’s incarnation was to restore Dharma on Earth by destroying the evil King of Lanka, Ravana.

Shree Rama’s journey is one of perfect adherence to Dharma, even through difficult situations in life. Seen as a truly devoted renunciant, Rama abandons his claim to the throne for his father’s honour, and serves a 14 year exile in the forest. Unable to bear separation, his wife Sita and brother Lakshman both join Rama in his exile.

Many events occur throughout their time in exile, but the most important being the kidnapping of his wife Sita by Ravana. This leads to a colossal war against Ravana after a long and painful search. The battle tests Shree Rama’s personal strength and virtue, but he eventually slays Ravana and liberates Sita.

Upon completing his exile, Rama returns to Ayodhya (the capital of his Kingdom and birthplace) and eventually becomes emperor, under a reign famously termed Rama Rajya – eleven thousand years of perfect happiness, peace, prosperity and justice. Rama’s presence and strict following of dharma attracted powerful devotees such as Hanuman and the vanaras of Kishkinda, whom helped Rama rescue Sita. Rama is revered for his endless compassion, courage and devotion to dharmic values and duty.

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Ritual & Celebration

Celebrations of Ramnavmi are marked by Akhand Paath (continuous recital) of the Ramcharitmanas, bhajans and kirtans. Images of Rama are placed on cradles and rocked by devotees. As Rama was born at noon, Mandirs are elaborately decorated and Aarti is performed. Many devotees uphold a Vrata (fasting) on this day and feast in the evening.

Ayodhya, the birthplace of Rama, is a focus for great celebration. A huge fair is organised for two days, where Ratha Yatras (chariot processions) of Rama and his wife Sita, brother Lakshman and devotee Hanuman, set out from many temples. Nasik, Tirupati and Rameshwar (major pilgrimage sites in India) also celebrate Ramnavmi with much joyous ceremony.

Date: 8th April 2014 (Chaitra Sud 9 in Hindu calendar)
Popular in: All across India
Origins: Festival celebrating the birth of Shree Ram

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