The Bold Voice of J&K

The Hindu Festival of Ram Navami

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Omkar Dattatray

Ram Navami is one of the important festivals of Hindus and it is celebrated in honor of Lord Ram with great devotion and much pomp and show in various parts of India .The festival celebrates the birth of Lord Rama who is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu .This festival is celebrated during the time of March-April the 9th day of first month of Hindu calendar that is in the second fortnight of the month of Chaitra after the culmination of Chaitra Navratri .Lord Rama who became the king of Ayodhya ,was known for is exemplary qualities .He was popular ,brave ,patient .kind ,just, intelligent ,loving ,obedient and dutiful -an epitome of all good qualities on the planet .Lord Rama is always worshipped with his concert Sita ,brother Laxamana and devotee Hunuman .The worship of Lord Ram is accompanied with by worship of sun god since Ram is believed to have descended from sun ,or the solar dynasty .Ram Navami celebrations include reading the great epic Ramayana and staging plays of the Ram Lila or the pastimes of the life of Lord Rama .Ram Jankis are also taken out in a traditional manner to celebrate this festival which throws light on the life and teachings of Lord Ram and religious discourses are held which exhort the people to put up to the teachings of Lord Ram and to follow his teachings and life for the success of the life on the earth. Ram Navami is a Sanskrit word connotes a Hindu festival that celebrates the birthday of Rama ,the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu .The festival celebrates the descent of Vishnu as the Ram avatar ,through his birth to king Dashratha and Queen Kaushlaya in Ajodhya. This festival is part of the Chaitra Navratri in the spring and falls on the ninth day of bright fortnight of (Shaukla Paksha) of Chaitra the first month in the Hindu calendar. This typically occurs in the month of March/April by Georgian calendar .Ram Navami is an optional holiday for government employees in India. The day is marked Bhajan or by Ram Katha recital or reading of Rama stories ,including the Hindu epic Ramayana which narrates the tale of Rama .Some Vaishnava Hindus visit a temple while others pray within their homes and some participate in a bhajan or Kirtan with music as part of Puja and aarti .Some devotees mark the event by taking miniature statues of infant Rama ,washing and clothing them ,then placing them in cradles. Charitable events and community meals are also organized .The festival is an occasion for moral reflection for majority of Hindus .Some mark this day by vrate -fasting .Important celebrations on this day take place at Ayodhya and numerous Ram temples all over India .Rathyatras ,the chariot processions of Rama ,Sita ,his brother Laxamana and Hanuman are taken out at many places .In Ayodhya ,many take holy dip in the sacred river Sarayu and then visit Rama temple .The significance of the festival is that it indicates the victory of good over evil and establishment of dharama to beat the adharama .The Ram Navami festival celebrations starts with jalam -water offering in the early morning to Surya -the sun god to propitiate him .This is due to the belief that the descendents of Surya were the ancestors of Rama .As already noted the day is the ninth and last day of Chaitra Navratri not to be confused with better known autumn Navratri .It celebrates the birth of Vishnu,s seventh avatar Rama .It is marked by the faithful with Puja such as bhajan and kirtan by fasting and reading passages about Rama’s life .A number of cities mentioned in the Ramayana legends about Rama’s life observe major celebrations .These include Ayodhya (UttarPradesh), Rameswarm (Tamil Nadu) ,Bhadrachalam (Telangana ),Sitamarh( Bihar).Some locations organize rath yatras,(Chariot processions) ,while some celebrate it as the wedding anniversary festival of Rama and Sita .While the festival is named after Rama ,the festival typically includes reverence to Sita ,Laxmana and Hunuman ,given their importance in Rama’s life story .Some Vaishnavite Hindu observe the festival in Hindu temples ,while others observe it within their homes .Surya ,the Hindu sun god is part of the worship and ceremonies in some communities .Some Vaishnavite communities observe all nine nights of Chaitra Navratri by remembering Rama and reading the Ramayana ,with some temples organizing special discussion sessions in the evening .Charitable events to help those in need and community meals are organized by temples and Vaishnavite organizations and for many Hindus it is an occasion for moral reflection .In Karnataka ,Sri Ramnavami is celebrated by the local Mandalis at some places ,even on footpaths by dispersing free Panakam (a jiggery drink) and some food .In eastern Indian states such as Odisha ,Jharkhand ,and West Bengal ,the Jagannath temples and regional vaishnava community observe Ram Navami and treat it as the day when preparations begin for their annual Jaggannath Rath in summer. .Devotees associated with ISCON fast through the daylight hours .A number of ISCON temples introduce a more prominent celebration of the occasion of the holiday with the view of addressing needs of growing native Hindu congregation .It is however a notable calendar event on the traditional Gaurabda calendar with a specific additional requirement of fasting by devotees .Ram Raja is the ideal Raja and one is reminded of this by recalling Ramayana .In brief it can be said that Ram Navami festival occupies an important place in the Sanatan Dhrama and Hindus celebrate it with great devotion and traditional gaiety .This year the important festival of Ram Navami dedicated to Lord Ram falls on 17th April Wednesday.Let us all celebrate this festival with devotion and dedication to Lord Ram and let us pray for happiness ,prosperity and peace in India and also pray for communal harmony so that India continues to shine in the world for its unity in diversity .May we continue to celebrate our festivals jointly and in common so that it will become an example for others for emulation.
(The author is a columnist,social and KP activist).

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