If you’ve ever traveled throughout India, you’ve undoubtedly seen temples to various deities in both large cities and the smallest villages. There are hundreds of Hindu gods, each of whom embodies certain divine attributes. One of the most beloved gods in the Hindu pantheon is Lord Rama. He is also affectionately known as Shri Rama or Ram. (Ram rhymes with palm in pronunciation). A joyous festival in India is Ram Navami, or the birthday of Lord Rama. Ram Navami 2018 falls on March 25.
Ram Navami falls during the Vedic month of Chaitra. It happens during one of the four celebrations of Navratri, known as Chaitra Navratri or Vasant Navratri. Navami refers to the 9th phase of the Moon in Vedic astrology or Jyotish. Ram Navami 2018 falls on the 9th day of the waxing Moon in the month of Chaitra. In some regions of India, the festival of Ram Navami lasts nine days.
Rama is considered to be one of the dashavatar (10 incarnations) of Lord Vishnu, specially the 7th avatar. Shri Rama is said to possess many of the divine qualities of Shri Vishnu. He embodies duty, generosity, humility, honor, righteousness, and sincerity.
The word Ram translates as “one who delivers joy to others” or “one who remains divinely blissful” or “the one in whom the sages rejoice”.
Another celebration of Ram Navami in South India is the commemoration of the marriage of Lord Rama and his consort, Sita. She is also known as Janaki, or the daughter of King Janaka. This day is also known as Kalyanotsavam.
The story of Lord Rama
Rama was born in the land of Ayodhya as one of the sons of King Dasharatha. His mother was Kaushalya. He was meant to inherit the throne. However, Dasharatha had three wives. His favorite was Kaikeyi. She was the mother of Bharata. Just before Rama took his rightful place as king, Kaikeyi went to her husband. She used one of the boons which her husband had given her. She had Rama exiled to the forest. Bharata was named as the heir apparent. Rama left Ayodhya with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman. His ever present servant, Hanuman, also joined them in the forest. King Dasharatha was so grief stricken over the departure of his favorite son that he died six days after Rama left the kingdom. Bharata didn’t ascend the throne, out of respect for his brother. Bharata went in search of Rama and begged him to return and take his rightful place as king. However. Ram felt he needed to honor his father’s command to remain away for 14 years. He left his hut at Chitrakuta and went into the forest. This illustrated how Rama chose dharma over artha (material wealth).
Ram was born to restore dharma to the world. He did so by defeating the demon king, Ravana, in Lanka. Ravana had been wreaking havoc or creating adharma. This day is celebrated as Dussera. While they were in exile, Ravana managed to abduct Sita. Hanuman was very instrumental in bringing her back to Rama and helping to defeat Ravana.
When Lord Rama returned home to Ayodhya, Kaikeyi begged his forgiveness. Rama was quick to respond that none was necessary as she was acting in the best interest of her son at the time.
Rama’s reign in Aydohya is known as Ramarajya, or the epitome of perfect governance.
Ways to celebrate Ram Navami 2018:
- Fast on this day and refrain from eating grains. Fruits, nuts, and non-caffeinated beverages are permissible. Tapioca, or sabudana, may also be eaten.
- Make an offering of jal (water) to Surya Deva (the Sun) in the morning. The Sun is thought to be an ancient ancestor to Lord Rama. The syllable “Ra” means Sun.
- Read the Ramayana or the story of the life and times of Lord Rama
- Read the Shrimad Bhagvatam
- Visit a Hindu temple and worship Rama, Lakshman, Sita (Janaki) Devi, and Hanuman
- Chant bhajans in praise of Lord Rama
- Read the Sunderkand or listen to the audio
- Read the Ram Charita Manas
- Participate in a Rama Yajna or puja
- Listen to the Ram Raksha stotram
- Stand up for righteousness in the world
Shubh Ram Navami 2018! Shri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Rama! Ram Lakshman Janaki Jai Bolo Hanumanki!
Also published on Medium.