Ram Navami Celebrations and Significance
Ram Navami is a major festival for Lord Ram’s worshippers. Lord Ram's dynasty considered themselves to have descended from the Sun. Therefore the celebrations on Ram Navami festival begin early morning by praying to the Sun. In the afternoon, which is supposed to be Lord Ram’s birth time, a special prayer is performed in temples.
It is also considered auspicious to undertake a fast on this day. The more religious ones fast for all nine days preceding the day of Rama Navami. The fast is kept to seek perfection as a human being and is considered as an exercise to build up will power and self discipline. Many temples perform elaborate prayers throughout the day. A very important practice during this festival includes reading of the Ramayana by a pundit in the temple for all nine days and this is a crowd puller as people come to listen to the fascinating story.
Although this festival is celebrated everywhere in India, there are two cities- Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh and Pondicherry which are especially renowned for their Ram Navami celebrations. Both these places are mentioned in the epic Ramayana.
Ayodhya is the place where Lord Ram was born and during the festival resplendently decorated rath yatras or chariot processions are carried through the town. The main attraction of these processions are lavishly decorated chariots carrying four people dressed up as Lord Ram, his wife Sita, brother Laxman, and his disciple Hanuman. The chariot is followed by many other people dressed up as King Ram’s soldiers. These rath yatras take place all over north India and continue for two days, accompanied by much fanfare and rejoicing. During the processions participants sing religious songs and praise the happy days of Ram's reign.
Other sacred places like Ujjain and Rameshwaram also draw thousands of devotees from all over the country during this festival. People visit Rameshwaram to take a ritual bath in the sea before paying homage at the Ramanathaswamy temple.
Fairs are hosted in various places in north India in connection with this festival that end in spectacular fireworks on Rama Navami.