Ram Navami is a Hindu festival, celebrating the birth of Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The 9th day (Navami) in the bright fortnight of the Hindu lunar month of Chaitra is referred to as Ram Navami. Lord Rama is an avatar of Lord Vishnu who came down to earth to battle the invincible Ravana in human form. Lord Brahma had been receiving complaints from all the gods about the havoc that Ravana was wreaking on earth, but because Lord Brahma had granted Ravana so many boons, he could not be killed by a god. But Ravana had become so overconfident that he would never expect an attack from a human being. So Lord Vishnu agreed to go to earth in the guise of Prince Ram, the son of King Dasharath and Queen Kaushalya.
The story of Lord Rama as told in the great epic Ramayana is one that most Indians know irrespective of caste, creed and religion. Lord Rama is a legendary figure, the epitome of all that is good and true, the man who vanquished the demon king Ravana. Lord Rama is not just a hero, but has been given the status of a god by the Hindus. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that his birth is celebrated year after year with great pomp and enjoyment on the ninth day after the new moon in Sukul Paksh (the waxing moon), which falls sometime in the month of April.
The festival of Ramnavami is celebrated with great devotion across the nation and every region has its own regional significance behind the celebration. Ayodhya is the focus of great celebrations. A huge fair is organized for two days. Ratha yatras or ‘chariot processions’ of Rama and his wife Sita, brother Lakshmana and devotee Hanuman, are taken out from many temples.
Excerpts from the Ramacharitamanas, extolling the glory of Rama, are recited. The public worship starts with morning ablutions, chanting Vedic mantras dedicated to Vishnu, and offering flowers and fruit to the god. People keep a fast throughout the day, breaking it only at midnight with fruit.
Ram Navami is a gazetted holiday in Bihar, Chattisgarah, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh.
In the south of India the “Sri Ramnavami Utsavam” is celebrated for nine days with great fervor and devotion.
Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh), Bhadrachalam (Andhra Pradesh) and Rameswaram (Tamil Nadu) are the main places where one can witness the grandest observances of the occassion. Thousands of devotees and tourists from different nations throng these places during Ram Navami to get a feel of the religious excitement.