Shri Rama Navami, is to commemorate appearance day of the 7th Avatara of Bhagawan Vishnu, Shri Rama. It is observed on the 9th day of the waxing phase (Shukhla Paksha) of Hindu month Chaitra (Generally March/April of Gregorian Calendar) and Punarvasu Nakshatra, It is also the last day of Chaitra (or Vasanta) Navaratri Celebrations (celebrated in honor of Maa Shakti).
The Prasada (Payasa) was distributed to all his 3 wives by King Dasharatha The ceremony saw King Dashratha distribute payasam (a preparation of milk and rice) to his three wives. Queen Kausalya gave birth to the eldest offspring Rama
Kosala Kingdom located on banks of River Sarayu was founded by Rajarshi Manu and Ayodhya was the capital. Under the regime of King Dasaratha of Ikshwaku Dynasty, the kingdom attained peak of prosperity. However there was a serious problem as King Dasharatha had no offsprings. Upon advise of Rishi Vashishtha, Dashratha performed Putrakamesthi Yaga, one of the most difficult rituals, under leadership of the expert of this Yagnya, Rishi Rishyashring. During the Purnahuti, Rishyashrung made the final offering and the Devas, Siddhas and Sadhus began praying to Brahma. Their concern was the evil acts of King of Lanka, Ravana who was tormenting all noble souls everywhere. He was unconquerable by the power of boon he had received from Brahma himself who was pleased with penance performed by Ravana. Ravana had a boon that he would never be slayed by Devas, Gandharvas, Yakshas or Asuras. Providentially he had missed mentioning Manushya (man) while seeking the boon.
All Devas, and Sages in attendance of the Yagna approached Vishnu for a solution and pleaded with him to take an avatar on earth and who better than Noble King Dasharata to be born to. Bhagawan Vishnu the God who oversees maintaining and preserving order in the creation agrees. As the Yagna concluded, a luminous image appeared over the Homa Agni with a bowl of Payasa which was handed over to Dashratha for distribution to his wives, Kausalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra as prasada. The figure also tells that after consuming the prasada with utmost devotion, it is certain that they would give birth to children. Bhagawan Vishnu descended to earth as Maryada Purushottama Shri Rama, who was born to King Dasharatha and Kausalya in Ayodhya. Kaikeyi gave birth to Bharata, Sumitra to Lakshmana and Shatrughna. Rama was born at noon and hence gets his name Rama (which means Bliss and also Radiance).
The following excerpt from From Chapter 1, Balakanda, Valmiki Ramayana elucidates the details of His Birth, the astrological alignments and physical traits:
ततो यज्ञे समाप्ते तु ऋतूनां षट् समत्ययुः |Chapter 1, Balakanda, Valmiki Ramayana
ततश्च द्वादशे मासे चैत्रे नावमिके तिथौ || १-१८-८
नक्षत्रेऽदितिदैवत्ये स्वोच्चसंस्थेषु पंचसु |
ग्रहेषु कर्कटे लग्ने वाक्पताविंदुना सह || १-१८-९
प्रोद्यमाने जगन्नाथं सर्वलोकनमस्कृतम् |
कौसल्याजनयद्रामं सर्वलक्षणसंयुतम् || १-१८-१०
विष्णोरर्धं महाभागं पुत्रमैक्ष्वाकुनंदनम् |
लोहिताक्षं महाबाहुं रक्तौष्ठं दुंदुभिस्वनम् || १-१८-११
On completion of the ritual, six seasons have passed by; then in the twelfth month, i.e., in Chaitra-Masa (March/April), and Ninth day of the month, on Punarvasu Nakshatra (Star, of which Aditi is the presiding deity); and when five of the nine planets – Surya, Kuja, Guru, Shukra, Shani planets are in ascension in their respective houses i.e Mesha, Makara, Karkata, Mina, Tula – Rashi’s; and when Jupiter in conjunction with Moon is ascendant in Cancer, and when day is advancing, Queen Kausalya gave birth to a son with all the divine attributes like lotus-red eyes, lengthy arms, roseate lips, voice like drumbeat, and who took birth to delight the Ikshwaku dynasty and adored by all the worlds, and who is the greatly blessed epitome of Vishnu, namely Rama.
Rituals & Celebrations
As in any celebrations (or prayers) all the praised and admiration are for characteristics or traits that we aspire. Never it is for any negative traits. Worship of Shri Rama is thus for all that He was known for – Popularity, Bravery, Kindness, Fairness, Intelligence, Patience, Love, Obedience and Dutifulness. His avatar was meant to signify Maryada Purushottama – Beyond the limits of the Greatest man. (Maryada means Limitsl; Purusha – Human; Uttama – Best). He was considered one of the best administrator and His sense of propriety was unmatachable.
Bhagawan Rama is always worshiped with his consort Sita, brother Lakshmana and devotee Hanuman, together called as Shri Rama Parivara. The day begins by having a ritualistic bath and worship of the Surya, the Sun. This is mandatory part of the celebrations as Shri Rama descended from the Supreme Power, Sun (Surya Vamsha or the Solar Dynasty).
The Shri Rama Parivara is installed on a Peetha (or it can be a Potrait too) and Pooja is performed. The Naivedya and prasada for the day (Karnataka Practice) comprises of Kesari bath, Cosambari, Panaka (a cooling drink made of Bhel Fruit). For those interested in knowing how the Belada Hannu Panaka is made, here is the recipe and process
After the pooja, devotees will sing Devotional songs (Bhajans) and read from the Shri Ramayana. Hindu celebrations is always about Victory of Good over Evil. Shri Rama’s avatara lakshya (objective) was slaying of Evil Ravana, the 10 headed tormentor, the ruler of Lanka. Reading or chanting from Ramayana emphasises being in the path of righteousness (Dharma) and realise the difference between the good and bad.
Ever grateful to Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of Art of Living for guiding us in this path and the opportunities that follows being in the path, and the blissful Satsangs that we have the privilege to conduct and participate and on a pious day like Shri Rama Navami is a true blessing.
The exact birthplace of Shri Rama in Ayodhya is where a Grand Temple is coming up. Click here for Details
!Jai Shri Ram!