Born to King Dashratha and Queen Kaushalya in Ayodhya in the Tretha Yug, Ram is considered the seventh incarnation of Vishnu and his birth is commemorated as Ram Navami in India. It is celebrated as a spring Hindu festival on the ninth day of Chaitra Navratri which marks the birth of Ram, the seventh avatar of Vishnu.
This festival falls in the Shukla Paksha (brighter half) of the Chaitra month of the Hindu calendar.
This year, Ram Navami will be celebrated by Hindus in India on April 21.
History and significance
Ram Navami is recorded in Rama recitals, especially in Ramayana which is considered one of the two great Sanskrit epics of the Hindu religion. The story of Ram Navami is also called the Vratha Katha.
It describes how King Dashratha and his three queens – Kaushalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra performed the Putra Kamesti Yagna on the advice of Rishi Vashishth, when neither of King Dashratha’s wives was able to bear him an heir. After the yagna, the three queens were given kheer, which was blessed by Yajna, Lord of Yagna.
The queens conceived soon after they consumed the kheer and on the ninth day of Chaitra month, Queen Kaushalya gave birth to Rama. Bharat, Lakshman and Shatrugana were born to the other queens.
Rama had to step back as the rightful heir of Ayodhya due to the promise made by King Dashratha to his third wife Kaikeyi. However, he ruled the kingdom once he came back from 14 years of exile and became a just and loved ruler.
Celebrations in India:
On this day, devotees pray for peace, prosperity and success and seek divine blessings from Rama. Ram Navami also marks the ninth day of Navratri when devotees celebrate Navami by providing food for the needy.
Hindus also perform the rituals of Kanya Puja on this day, where 9 girls are invited at home and paid respect as Hindus believe that they are the manifestation of Devi. A prasad consisting of sooji halwa, kala chana and puri is also prepared and offered to the girls after the puja ritual.
Ram Navami is one of the biggest Hindu festivals and is celebrated in a number of ways. Some devotees bathe and dress up miniature idols of Rama, lit a lamp in front of the idol and then place these idols in a cradle to mark his birth while kheer is prepared as an offering to God.