Sri Rama Navami

Rama Navami, in honour of the birth of Lord Rama, is another popularly celebrated festival all over the country. This festive occasion is celebrated on the ninth day of the first fortnight of Chaitra on the Hindu Lunar Calendar - it falls during March-April on the Gregorian Calendar.

According to Valimiki, author of Ramayana, Rama's birth took place on a Chaitra Suddha Navami, under the Punarvasu Nakshatra and Karkataka lagna - at noon.

Besides Rama's birth, the festivities on this day cover events as diverse as his victory over Ravana, his wedding with Sita, and his coronation ceremony.

Special festive functions are held at the Sri Sita Ramachandraswamy temple in Bhadrachalam near Warangal. This year elaborate arrangements are made to meet the rush of devotees on Srirama Navami at Bhadrachalam on Thursday, April 13. The annual "Sita Ramachandra Swamy Kalyanam" would be performed between 10.30 AM and 1.30 PM at the Kalyana Mantapam, which will be covered live by both AIR and Doordarshan. Two sectors are designated for viewing the annual event: sector A is reserved for the paying devotees while sector B is reserved for pass holders, like the MPs and MLAs. Closed-circuit televisions have been deployed within the Kalayana Mantapam for the convenience of the devotees. The Bhakta Ramadas group will hold a Sangitha Ustavam at Bhadrachalam on the eve of Sri Rama Navami, when playback singer S Janaki would also participate.

In some parts of India, it is celebrated as a nine-day festival, coinciding with the conclusion of Vasanta Navaratri. On each of the nine days, a serialised enaction of Ramayana, the story of Rama, takes place in public places.

In some parts of India, especially Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, satsangs - public gatherings - are organised to commemorate the birth of Rama. Excerpts from the Ramacharitamanas, extolling the glory of Rama, are recited. People from all strata of the Hindu society gather to listen to the stories and their explanations offered by the learned.

Ramnavami

In North India, this event involves Ramnavami procession. The main attraction in this procession is a gaily decorated chariot in which four persons are dressed as Rama, his brother Laxman, his queen Sita and his disciple, Hanuman.

Scriptures dictate that the most important observation to be made on this day is that the Tidhi beginning before sunrise should be Navami. In such a situation, the devotees fast in the morning and after prescribed rituals like chanting Vedic mantras dedicated to Vishnu and other festivities, should have meals in company of friends.

In the event of the Tidhi being Ashtami even for a small duration after the sunrise, the devotee should donate a statue (or a picture) of Sri Rama and have a single meal in the day.

After the ceremonies, Harikathas are conducted in some villages wherein some scenes from Ramayana are enacted through dramas. Some devotees perform a marathon chanting of Rama's name. Some believe that writing the name of Rama a 10 lakh times would reward them with Punya and liberation. On the evening of Sri Rama Navami the effigy of Ravana is burnt by enthusiastic youth and children.

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