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Sri-Ramanavami
rama

photo"Rama, the ancient idol of the heroic ages, the embodiment of truth, of morality, the ideal son, the ideal husband, and above all, the ideal king, this Rama has been presented before us by the great sage Valmiki. No language can be purer, none chaster, none more beautiful, and at the same time simpler, than the language in which the great poet has depicted the life of Rama."
-Swami Vivekananda.

Sri-Ramnavami is dedicated to the Lord Rama. The festival commemorates the birth of Rama who is remembered for his preperous and righteous reign. Ramrajya (the reign of Rama) has become synonymous with a period of peace and prosperity. Mahatma Gandhi also used this term to describe how, according to him, India should be after independence.

"Wherever four Hindus live, Rama and Sita will be there" so said Swami Vivekananda, one of the foremost harbingers of modern national renaissance of Bharat. The reverse also is equally true - wherever Rama and Sita live, the people there will remain and live as Hindus.

Sri Rama was Lord Vishnu's seventh avatar (incarnation) on earth. Sri Rama was portrayed as being the ideal man, and his wife Sita, was the ideal woman. Sri Ramanavami is the birth of Sri Rama on this earth. This festival usually occurs between March or April in the Christian calendar. The festival is celebrated on the ninth day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month of Chaitra. In some parts of India, it is a nine-day festival, coinciding with the Vasanta Navaratri.

The story of Rama was first written by the Sage Valmiki. The epic known as the Ramayana. The public worship starts with morning ablutions, chanting Vedic mantras dedicated to Vishnu, and offering flowers and fruits to the god. People keep a fast throughout the day, breaking it only at midnight..

Ramayana is one of the great epics of India. This story of Sri Rama by the great sage Valmiki is referred to as the Adi Kavya. Other famous versions of Ramayana include Shri Ram Charit Manas in avadhii by Goswami Tulasidas and Kambar´s Kambaraamayanam in Tamil.

The Ramayana has been a perennial source of spiritual, cultural and artistic inspiration, not only to the people of India but also to the people all over the world. It has helped to mould the Hindu character and has inspired millions of people with the deepest of love and devotion.

Ramnavami occurs in the month of March on the ninth day Chaitra Sukla Navami (the ninth day of the bright half of Chaitra). Celebrations begin with a prayer to the Sun early in the morning. At midday, when Lord Rama is supposed to have been born, a special prayer is performed. In northern India especially, an event that draws popular participation is the Ramnavami procession. The main attraction in this procession is a decorated chariot in which four persons are dressed up as Rama, his brother Laxman, his queen Sita and his disciple Hanuman. The chariot is accompanied by several other persons dressed up in ancient costumes as work by Rama's solders. The procession is a holy affair with the participants shouting praises echoing the happy days of Rama's reign.

Surya - The Sun was recognised as the source of light and heat even in ancient times. Many royal dynasties potrayed symbols of virility like the Sun, Eagle, Lion etc. as their progenitor. Rama's dynasty considered themselves to have descended from the Sun. This could have led to the tagging on, of Rama's birthday to a festival devoted to the sun.

On the face of it Sri-Ramnavmi appears to be just a festival commemorating the reign of a king who was later deified. But even behind present-day traditions there are clues which unmistakably point to the origin of Ramnavmi as lying beyond the Ramayana story.

Sri Ramnavami occurs at the beginning of summer when the sun has started moving nearer to the northern hemisphere. The Sun is considered to be the progenitor of Rama's dynasty which is called the Sun dynasty (Raghukula or Raghuvamsa, Raghu means Sun and Kula or Vamsa mean familial descendant). Rama is also known as Raghunatha, Raghupati, Raghavendra etc. That all these names begin with the prefix Raghu is also suggestive of some link with Sun-worship. The syllable Ra is used in the word to describe the sun and brilliance in many languages. In Sanskrit, Ravi and Ravindra mean Sun. The hour chosen for the observance of the lord's birth is that when the sun is overhead and is at its maximum brilliance. In some Hindu sects, prayers on Ramnavami day start not with an invocation to Rama but to Surya (sun). People keep a fast throughout the day, breaking it only at midnight with fruit. Public gatherings called satsangs are organised to commemorate the birth of Rama. Excerpts from the Ramayana, extolling the glory of Rama and his holy marriage with Sita are recited. People of all castes and creeds participate in these gatherings to listen to the stories and their explanations offered by the learned. The ritual of Ramayana is concluded with prasadam of 'vada pappu' (soaked lentil) and panakam (sherbat made of jaggery dissolved in water to which pepper powder and cardamom powder are added).

Sree Raama Raama Raamethi
Rame Raame Manorame |
Sahasra Naama Thatthulyam
Raama Naama Varaanane ||

Aapadaamapa Harthaaram
Daatharam Sarva Sampadaam |
Lokaabhiraamam Sree Raamam
Bhuyo Bhuyo Namaamyaham ||

The birthday of Sri Rama, indeed, signifies an event worth of remembrance by every one, whatever his country or race or religion, who cherishes the time honored sublime values of human culture and civilization.