Rama Naumi is a Hindu festival, celebrating the birth of Lord Rama.
In Rama Avatar, Sriman Narayana incarnates himself as Rama, the central character in the epic Ramayan.
In the epic, the character Rama is expected to show the world the characteristics of an ideal person, including ideal son, ideal husband, ideal king and an ideal person.
OM DASERATHAYA VIDMAHE
SITA VALLABHAYA DHIMAHI, TANNO RAMA PRACHODAYAT
Meaning: Om, Let me meditate on the son of Daṣaratha, Oh, consort of Sita, give me higher intellect, And let God Rāma illuminate my mind.
THE ORIGINS OF RAAM NAUMI
Rama Naumi / Navami is a Hindu festival, celebrating the birth of Lord Rama to King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya of Ayodhya. Rama is the 7th incarnation of the Dasavatara of Sriman Narayana. Years later Lord Rama married Sita (avatar of Lakshmi). Rama is the seventh incarnation of Narayana, who takes birth by His own will, on Bhuloka (Earth) when Adharma rules over Dharma. He protects all his devotees by vanquishing the roots of Adharma. Rama decided to incarnate to destroy an Asura or person with demonic and evil designs, called Ravana.
The sacred marriage of Devi Sita with Lord Rama was held on Margashirsha Shukla Panchami as per Valmiki Ramayana (This occasion is known as Sitarama Kalyanam). The Rama Navami festival falls in the Shukla Paksha on the Navami, the ninth day of the month of Chaitra in the Hindu calendar. Thus it is also known as Chaitra Masa Suklapaksha Navami and marks the end of the nine-day Chaitra-Navratri celebrations.
At some places the festival lasts the whole nine days of the Navratras, thus the period is called ‘Sri Rama Navratra’. It is marked by continuous recitals of the Ramayan, bhajans, kirtans and distribution of Parsadham after the puja and aarti. Images of the infant form of Sri Rama are placed on cradles and rocked by devotees.
Since Rama is the 7th incarnation of Narayana having born at noon, temples and family shrines are elaborately decorated and traditional prayers are chanted together by the family in the morning. Also, at temples, special havans are organized, along with Vedic chanting of Vedic mantras and offerings of fruits and flowers.
Many followers mark this day by Vrata (fasting) through the day followed by feasting in the evening. The day is also celebrated as the wedding anniversary of Sri Rama and his consort Sita (Sitarama Kalyanam).
In the epic Ramayana, Dasharatha, the King from Ayodhya, had three wives named Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi in the Treta Yuga, which follows the Satya Yuga and is succeeded by Dwapara Yuga.
Their greatest worry was that they had no children, and so they had no heir to the throne in the Ikshvaku Kula or royal lineage of great, pious and wonderful Kings. Rishi Vasistha suggests him to perform Puthra Kamesti Yagna, through which he can have a desired child.
He also tells him to invite Maharshi Rishyasringa to perform this yagna for him. King Dasharatha consents and heads to Maharshi Rishyasringa’s ashram, to invite him. Maharshi agrees and accompanies King Dasharatha to Ayodhya (Capital of Avadha) and performs the yagna.
As a result of this yagna, Yagneshwara appears and provides Dasharatha with a bowl of divine pudding (Kheer/Payasam) and requests him to give it to his wives. Dasharatha gives one half of the payasam to his elder wife Kausalya, and another half to his younger wife Kaikeyi.
They both give half of their portions to Sumitra. After a few days, all three Queens conceive. On the ninth day (Navami) of Chaithra Masa (last month in Vedic calendar), at noon Kausalya gives birth to Rama, Kaikeyi gives birth to Bharata, and Sumitra to twin boys, Lakshmana and Shatrughna.
There is a link between Lord Rama and Sun Worship. 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 the link with Sun-worship. The hour chosen for the observance of the Lord’s birth is that when the sun is overhead and is at its maximum brilliance.
ASPECTS OF SRI RAMA
In Rama Avatar, Sriman Narayana incarnates himself as Rama, the central character in the epic Ramayan. In the epic, the character Rama is expected to show the world the characteristics of an ideal person, including the ideal son, ideal husband, ideal king and an ideal person.
Rama was incarnated upon this planet to get rid of the Asura with ten heads, called Ravana, who had been granted a boon from Brahma. He is to have immunity from the Gods and other celestial beings. Ravana was too vainglorious to be thinking of being vanquished by a man. Hence Rama was born, Lakshmi, wife of Sriman Narayana was born as Sita. Lakshmana is the reincarnation of Sheshnag and Hanuman, the 11th form of Lord Shiva.
The story of Ramayan is an exciting nail-biting story of the war raged by Rama against various evil elements of the world and in the end against Ravana. The Ramayan epitomises the ideal behaviour of man, with a special focus on the man-wife relationship, son-father relationship and the rules for ideal governance by a King.
A King called Dasharatha had four sons named Rama, Lakshmana, Shatrughna and Bharata by his three different wives, Kaushalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi. From Kaushalya, Rama was born, Lakshmana and Shatrughna from Sumitra and from Kaikeyi, Bharata.
Being the eldest, Rama will be the successor to the throne of Ayodhya. Sita is the beloved wife of Rama and daughter of King Janaka. She is the incarnation of Mother Lakshmi (the consort of Sriman Narayana). Sita is portrayed as the epitome of female purity and virtue.
When King Dasharatha decided to hand the throne to Rama, his youngest wife, Kaikeyi became envious. She wanted the throne for her son. During a battle, Kaikeyi saved Dasharatha’s life and he promised her two wishes.
She claimed her wishes by demanding that Rama is banished for 14 years and her son Bharata be crowned as King of Ayodhya. Dasharatha dies heartbroken after Rama goes into exile. Bharat did not want the crown, for he loved Rama dearly. Under instruction from Rama, he promised to look after the kingdom until Rama’s return to Ayodhya, provided that Rama’s sandals sit on the throne.
Lakshmana, the younger brother also chose to go into exile with Rama. He spends his time protecting Sita and Rama during which he fought the Demoness Surpanakha by cutting off her nose. He is forced to leave Sita, who was deceived by the Demon Maricha into believing that Rama was in trouble.
Before leaving on any adventure, Rama used to draw a magic circle around the hut to protect Sita from any danger. It was at this point that the Demon King Ravana, disguised as a sage tricked Sita into believing that he required help. She stepped out of the circle and Ravana captured her.
Jatayu, King of the vultures, tries to rescue Sita but is mortally wounded. At Lanka, Sita is kept under heavy guard by many female demons. Ravana demands Sita to marry him, but Sita, eternally devoted to Rama, refuses him all the time. Rama and Lakshmana learn about Sita’s abduction from Jatayu and immediately set out to save her. During their search, they meet the demon Kabandha and the ascetic Shabari, who directs them towards Sugriva and Hanuman.
Rama and Lakshmana meet Hanuman, the greatest of monkey heroes and Sugriva, the banished King to the throne of Kishkindha. In exchange for helping Rama to recover Sita, Sugriva befriends Rama. Lord Rama and Lakshmana help him by killing his elder brother Bali thus regaining the Kingdom of Kiskindha.
However, Sugriva soon forgets his promise. The clever monkey Queen, Tara, convinces Sugriva to honour his pledge. Sugriva sends search parties to the four corners of the earth, only to return without success from north, east and west. The southern search party under the leadership of Angad and Hanuman learns from a vulture named Sampati that Sita was taken to Lanka. Sampati is the younger brother of the late Jatayu
After learning the whereabouts of Sita, Hanuman assumes a gargantuan form and makes a colossal leap across the ocean to Lanka. Here, Hanuman explores the demon’s city and spies on Ravana. He locates Sita in the Ashoka grove. He sees Ravana trying to entice and threatened Sita to marry him and is awestruck by her devotion to Lord Rama.
Ravana leaves her with an ultimatum, that upon his next visit if Sita doesn’t accept his hand in marriage, he will kill her. Hanuman appears and reassures Sita, giving Rama’s signet ring as a sign of good faith. He offers to carry Sita back to Rama, however, she refuses, reluctant to allow herself to be touched by a male other than her husband. She says that Rama himself must come and avenge the insult of her abduction. It is Lord Rama’s destiny to do this.
With the permission of Sita, Hanuman wreaks havoc in Lanka by destroying trees and buildings and killing Ravana’s warriors. He allows himself to be captured and produced before Ravana. He gives a bold lecture to Ravana to release Sita.
He is condemned and his tail is set on fire, but he escapes his bonds and, leaping from roof to roof, sets fire to Ravana’s citadel and makes the giant leap back from the island. The joyous search party returns to Kishkindha with the news. Having received Hanuman’s report on Sita, Rama and Lakshmana proceed with their allies towards the shore of the southern sea.
The Simians named “Nal” and “Neel” construct a floating bridge (known as Rama Setu) across the ocean, and the princes and their army cross over to Lanka. There they are joined by Ravana’s renegade brother Vibhishana who advises them on certain battle strategies and how to destroy Ravana. A lengthy battle ensues and Rama kills Ravana by shooting an arrow into his belly (Ravan’s life force). Rama then installs Vibhishana on the throne of Lanka.
On meeting Sita, Rama asks her to undergo the Agni Pariksha, the test of fire to prove her purity, since she had stayed at the demon’s palace. When Sita plunges into the sacrificial fire, Agni the Lord of fire raises Sita, unharmed, to the throne, attesting to her purity.
At the expiration of his term of exile, Rama returns to Ayodhya with Sita and Lakshmana, where the coronation is performed. This is the beginning of Rama Rajya, which means an ideal state with good morals.
It is a place where all religions, creed and castes can live together in harmony and work towards progress together. Rama Rajya is the ultimate state of a true democracy where through unity one gains strength and protects the other as humanity is the greatest essence above all.
HOW TO PERFORM PUJA FOR SHRI RAMA NAUMI
Rama Naumi is observed for 9 days. A strict vegetarian fast is observed during this period. Devotees of Lord Narayana keep a strict fast during the 8 days and worship His form Sri Rama.
Performing Kalasam Pooja and Hawan is beneficial for the Lord to bestow education, wisdom, knowledge and success. The reading of the Ramayana is also done. Parsadham such as fruits, sweetmeats, milk, coconut and flowers are presented to Lord Rama and then distributed.
Celebrations begin with a prayer to the Sun early in the morning. On the 8th day at midday, when Lord Rama is supposed to have been born, a special prayer is performed. Temples of Rama are decorated, religious discourses are held and the Ramayana is recited for ten days.
People sing devotional songs in praise of Rama and rock, images of him in a cradle to celebrate his birth. Rathyatras or chariot processions of Rama, his wife Sita, brother Lakshmana and devotee Hanuman are held from many temples.
A chariot procession is accompanied by several devotees dressed up in traditional attire. The procession is a gusty affair with the participants shouting, singing and dancing praises echoing the happy days of Rama’s reign.