चैत्र शु. नवमी
Ramanavami is the celebration of the birth of Lord Ram. It is celebrated on the ninth day of the first fortnight of Chaitra. The story of Ram (Ramayan) was first written by sage Valmiki in about the 4th century B.C. Rama is supposed to have lived during the 8th or 7th century B.C. The worship starts in the morning with the chanting of Vedic mantras dedicated to Vishnu, offering flowers and fruit to the god. People keep a fast throughout the day, breaking it only at midnight with fruits.
During the reign of king Dasarath, Ayodhya reached a period of great prosperity. Dasarath faced a big problem: he had no children. Therefore he decided to perform a sacrifice known as “ashvamedh yagya”, or horse-sacrifice. A very holy man, Rishi Rishyashring, was chosen to conduct the sacrifice with utmost accuracy. The performance of this sacrifice was a great event in Ayodhya. At the end Rishyashring recited a mantra and made an offering to the fire. Then the gods, gandharvas, siddhas, and rishis present arid began to pray to Brahma.
At that time Ravan, king of Lanka, was terrorizing the people, and all were longing for liberation from his menace. Ravan had acquired great powers because he had obtained from god Brahma the boon that he would never die at the hands of gods, or gandharvas, or yakshas (demigods) or demons. As he was not afraid of men he did not care to include men in the list of his potential slayers. So Brahma declared that Ravan would die at the hands of a man. Then the gods went to Vishnu with the request, “Dasarath is a glorious king. Please, take birth in the wombs of his three queens in four different degrees of your divinity.”
When Dasarath’s sacrifice came to an end a shining figure appeared over the sacrificial kund, and offered the king a divine beverage called “payasam” to be given to his queens Kausalya, Kaikayi, and Sumitra. In due time Kausalya gave birth to Ram, Kaikayi to Bharat and Sumitra to Laxman and Shatrugna. Ram was born at noon of the bright ninth day of Chaitra. He was believed to be the embodiment of half degree of Vishnu’s divinity.
Ram is one of the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu, and one of the two most popular, along with Krishna. Consequently, Ram Navami is widely celebrated, though not on the scale of festivals like Diwali or Dussehra.
According to legend, Ram was born at noon. Ram is the epitome of perfection, the uttam purush (Purushottam), fulfilling all his duties towards both family and subjects. Ram was the first of the four sons of King Dasharath of Ayodhya. When it was time for Ram to be made crown prince, his stepmother, Kaikeyi, got Dasharath to send him to the forest for 14 years in exile. His wife Sita and his brother Lakshman also accompanied him. In the forest, Ravan, the demon king of Lanka, kidnapped Sita. Ram along with Hanuman and the monkey army, built a bridge to Lanka, killed Ravana, and rescued Sita from the clutches of Ravan.
It is believed that listening to the story of Ram cleanses the soul. Meditating on the noble Ram and chanting his name is believed to ease the pains of life and lead one to liberation. It is also common practice to chant thenameof Ram while rocking babies to sleep.
Though Ram Navami is a major festival for Vaishnavites, it is widely celebrated by worshippers of Shiva too.
It is considered auspicious to undertake a fast on the day in the name of Ram. Some devotees fast for nine days before Ramnavmi. The objective of the fast is not to ask for special favours of the deity but to seek perfection as a human being. Devotees perform elaborate pujas and the temples in the name of Ram have special devotional programmes and bhajan sessions throughout the day. Since Ram is also one of the most sung-about deities in Indian classical music and literature, week-long musical programmes are organized in certain parts of the country. Several sacred places associated with Ram, like Ayodhya, Ujjain and Rameshwaram, draw tens of thousands of devotees. In Rameshwaram, thousands take a ritual bath in the sea before worshipping at the Ramanathaswamy temple. During Ramnavmi, Fairs are organized in certain parts of north India, culminating in spectacular fireworks.
Lord Ram is the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, as per the Hindu Mythology. Ram symbolizes morality, virtue and idealism. Ram Slokas form part of prayers offered to the lord. Slokas on Lord Ram are as follows:
"Yanmaya Vashvarti Vishwamkhilambrahamadidevasura,
Yat Sat Vadmrishave Bhati Sakalam Rajoo Yadhaahaibharama,
Yatpadah Palvmaive Bhati Hi Bhavambhodhaisitatti Shravtam,
Vandeaham Tamsheshkaranparam Ramakhayamesham Harim"
Meaning: Lord Hari is also called as Ram and he is beyond all cause. This whole world is a part of his Maya. Lord Ram is the only one, with whose essence everything shines as real (though in reality it is false) where snake is misapprehended as a rope and whose feet are a boat to those who aspire to cross the ocean of Samsara, the relative existence. I surrender myself to such great Lord.
"Moolam Dharmtarovivekjaldhae Poornedumannandam,
Vaiaragayambuj Bhaskaram Tawaghharam Dhavanta Paham Tapham,
Mohambhodharpunjhpatanvidhoo Khe Sambhavam Shankaram,
Vande Braham Kul Kalankshamanam Shree Rambhoopam Priyam"
Meaning: Lord Ram, the beloved King is the root of the tree of all Dharma. He is the full moon, giving delight to the ocean of Viveka or discrimination and the sun for the lotus of Vairagya. He is the destroyer of sin, the dispeller of the darkness of ignorance and the destroyer of pain. In the act of destroying the masses of clouds, of delusion he acts like wind. I bow to the Lord, who is propitious and who brought death to the disgrace to the Brahmin family of Ravan.
"Prasantam Ya Na Gatabhishaket Satatha Na Mamloo Banvasdukhta,
Mukhambujshree Raghunandan Sai Mai Sada Aastu Sa Mujulmangalprada"
Meaning: Lord Ram has a lotus like beautiful face. His beauty neither gets enhanced at the coronation nor fades at the hardships of an exile in the forest. May Lord bless me with all auspicious.
"Neelambhuj Shyamalkomlang Sita Samaropitvambhagam,
Pano Mahasaikacharoochapam Namame Ramam Raghuvanshnatham"
Meaning: Lord Ram is the chief amongst the Raghus. His handsome body is of dark blue color like the blue lotus. He has Sita seated on his left. He is the one, who wields a beautiful bow and arrows in his hands. I bow to such great Lord.