Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ram Navami

Ram Navami
Lord Shri Ram
Rama Navami is the day on which Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, incarnated in human form in the land of Ayodhya. He is the ardha ansh of Vishnu or has half the divinitive qualities of Lord Vishnu. The word “Rama” literally means one who is divinely blissful and who gives joy to others, and one in whom the sages rejoice.

Ram Navami falls on the ninth day of the bright fortnight in the month of Chaitra (April/May) and coincides with Vasant Navratri or Chait Durga Puja. Therefore in some regions, the festival is spread over nine days. This day, marking the birthday of Lord Rama, is also observed as the marriage day of Rama and Sita and thus also referred to as Kalyanotsavam.


Legend:
Four storeys - even the original Ravana may not have been so tall. But this is the Kali Yuga, when evil is supposed to assume an even more terrifying form. Ravana has his moments of glory, and that too, on Rama Navami, the birthday of Rama.

The effigy of the ten-headed Ravana swaggers through the town, wearing a gaudy crown and exaggerated moustache, with shouting hordes following. But once Ravana reaches the open ground that is his final destination, he is suddenly deserted by most of his "followers" - because the noble Rama has made his appearance.

In the end, righteousness does triumph, even in Kali Yuga. Rama engages him in battle, and finally pierces him with a potent arrow. And the huge effigy of Ravana, filled to bursting with firecrackers, is set alight, and explodes into a thousand bits amid loud cheers from the crowd and shouts of Jai Shri Ram. This ritual is an important part of the Rama Navami celebrations in most parts of North India.

Rama Navami falls on the ninth day of the shukla paksha, or bright phase of the moon, in the lunar month of Chaitra (April-May). The first day of Chaitra , or Ugadi, also marks the beginning of the Indian year.

Rama is one of the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu, and one of the two most popular, along with Krishna. Consequently, Rama Navami is widely celebrated, though not on the scale of festivals like Diwali or Dussehra.

According to legend, Rama was born at noon. Rama is the epitome of perfection, the uttama purusha, fulfilling all his duties towards both family and subjects.

Rama was the first of the four sons of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. When it was time for Rama to be made crown-prince, his stepmother, Kaikeyi, got Dasharatha to send him to the forest for 14 years. His wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana also accompanied him. In the forest, Sita was kidnapped by Ravana, the demon king of Lanka. Rama, together with Hanuman and the monkey army, built a bridge to Lanka, killed Ravana, and brought Sita back.

It is believed that listening to the story of Rama cleanses the soul. Meditating on the noble Rama and chanting his name is believed to ease the pains of life and lead one to moksha, or liberation. It is also common practice to chant the name of Rama while rocking babies to sleep.

Significance:
Though Rama 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 Rama. The more devout fast for nine days, from Ugadi to Rama Navami. 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 chant the name of Rama. Temples of Rama have special services and bhajan sessions through the day.

One significant and popular element of the celebration is the Ramayana parayana, a discourse on the Ramayana, by a pundit or a professional story-teller. It usually lasts nine days, beginning on Ugadi and ending on Rama Navami. A skilled story-teller who can liven up the event by weaving in contemporary events attracts massive crowds.

Since Rama is also one of the most sung-about deities in Indian classical music and literature, week-long (and sometimes, month-long) musical programmes are organised.

Sacred places associated with Rama, 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.

Many places in North India host fairs in connection with the festival, culminating in spectacular fireworks on Rama Navami.

 Rama Navami in North India:
This day is dedicated to worshipping Lord Rama. All houses are cleaned and decorated nicely with colors and flowers. People go to the temple to celebrate the life of Lord Rama. Plays on the life of Lord Rama are enacted in the temples and other places of gathering. Importantly plays cover the most important aspects of Lord Ramas life: birth, life in guru kulam(school), marriage with Sitha Devi, life in the forest, friendship with Sugreeva and Hanuman, the war with Ravana, and coronation at Ayodhya. In Ayodhya (the birth place of Lord Rama) Lord Rama, Sith Devi, Lakshmana, and Hanuman are paraded in the streets with devotees singing bhajans, dances and songs. Special food is prepared at homes and in the temples. People wear new clothes, arrange feasts at their places, invite families and friends and share food with them, distribute food and clothes to the poor people.

Rama Navami in South India:

During his 14 years of time in forests Lord Rama travelled all the way from Ayodhya to the south tip of India, Kanyakumari. In His journey Lord Rama spent time at different places in South India. One famous place is called Bhadrachalam. It is in Andhra Pradesh state and the thatch hut called Panchavati was built here. It is in the Panchavati that Lord Rama and Sitha Devi spent their time during the vanavasa. This is the place where Lord Rama went after the golden deer that Sitha Devi wanted, and it is from here that Sitha Devi was abducted by the demon Ravana. Sri Sitha Rama Kalyanam is performed in a grand scale at Bhadrachalam every year on Sri Rama Navami day. Millions of people turn up to witness the Sri Sitha Rama Kalyanam at Bhadrachalam, and also take a dip in the sacred river Godavari. In South India devotees celebrate Rama Navami by performing the marriage ceremony of Lord Rama and Sith Devi. On this day people decorate their homes with colors, especially door entrances with mango leaves which signify the prosperity. People wear new clothes and perform special prayers to Lord Rama at home. Then they go to the temple to witness the marriage ceremony of Lord Rama and Sitha Devi. The special food of jaggery water(paanakam) and soaked lentles(Kosambri) are served along with mago rice. Since this is the very hot time of the summer season, drinking paanakam and eating kosambri gives cooling effect to the body, and they also have a very important medicinal value.


Fasting During the Navarathri and Recitation of Ramayana:

The day of fasting begins nine days before the Rama Navami(Lord Ramas birth), and in most places this day is the New Year. People start fasting from the New Year day by abstaining from the staple food of rice and bread. They eat only fruits and milk for ten days, and spend time reciting a few thousand verses from Ramayana everyday. The entire Ramayana containing over one hundred thousand verses will be finished during the nine days of Navarathri. Another reason why people observe Navarathri is because a divine girl called Vaishno Devi also performed Navarathri vrath(penance) for Lord Ramas victory over Ravana. Vaishno Devi was a divine girl who started meditating upon Lord Rama at the age of 9 years and when she expressed an interest to marry Lord Rama, he says that He vowed to be married only to Sitha Devi in that incarnation, and would marry her in the tenth incarnation of Kalki at the end of Kali Yuga. By observing Navarathri, devotees of Lord Rama follow the footsteps of Vaishno Devi. Another significance of observing Navarathri is to perform penance and meditate upon Lord Rama, so that they also lead a life like Lord Rama, who is an example for a perfect human being.
Post a Comment