Ram Navami 2017 and 2018
Ram Navami, or in the longer form “Rama” Navami, is one of the most important Hindu festivals, occurring in March or April on the Western calendar and on the 9th day of the month of Chaitra on the Hindu calendar.
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It is meant to commemorate the birth of the god Rama, who is believed to have been an incarnation of the god Vishnu and a wise and good king whose reign (the “Rama Rajya”) brought about great prosperity. The holiday is also celebrated in Nepal and by Hindus around the world.
The holiday can also be called “Vaishnava” after the Hindu sect of that name, which worships Vishnu in all of his different appearances and forms. The other two major groups of Hindus are the Shaivas and the Shaktas, also named after the gods they specially pay attention to.
In some parts of India, celebrations start nine days before Ram Navami and culminate in it, and the lead up is also considered to be a “festival of spring,” which arrives in India around that time of year.
Some Hindus, through the study of astrology, have come to conclude that Rama was actually born on January 10th, 5114 B.C., but traditional Hindus insist he was born on the 9th of Chaitra, around noon, and millions of years ago.
To celebrate the occasion, devotees will chant appropriate mantras all day long. They will also offer Rama flowers and fruits and go to temples or family shrines at noontime to pray to him. Additionally, there will be processions of his statues, rocking of smaller versions of his statue in a cradle, drinking of a sweet, peppered jaggery beverage, fasting until evening, and feasting during the evening. Some also ceremonially bathe a small Rama idol in water, as one would do to a newborn baby. In southern India, Ram Navami is also believed to be the day Rama married his only wife, Sita, and processions will involve both of their images.
Those visiting the land of India during Ram Navami may be interested in any of the following activities:
- Attend a traditional Ram Navami procession and ceremony. They are found all over India, but one of the biggest and most famous is done at the Bhadrachalam Temple in Telangana.
- See a “Ratha Yatra,” which is a chariot procession of Rama and Sita images, along with Rama’s brother and devotee named “Hanuman.” Costumed “soldiers” accompany the highly decorative chariot. Thousands attend the Ratha Yatra in the north Indian town of Ayodhya every year.
- In southern India, the wedding ceremony of Rama and Sita is “re-enacted” at numerous temples amid chants of “Rama! Rama! Rama!” One of the largest and most well-known of such events takes place in the town of Bhadrachalam.
- Tour the Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple, a Vaishnava pilgrimage site in the town of Tirumala, which is in the hilly country of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The temple is dedicated to another incarnation of Vishnua, called “Venkateswara,” and is called the “Temple of Seven Hills” after the seven surrounding mountain peaks. It dates from around A.D. 300 and is a beautiful example of Dravidian architecture.
Ram Navami is a widely celebrated Hindu religious holiday throughout India, especially devotedly observed by Vaishnava Hindus. It is also the occasion of numerous colorful processions and events that many tourists choose to attend.
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