"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."
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
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
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 ||
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.