Ram Navami is one of the most renowned festival, celebrating the birth of Lord Rama who is the 7th Incarnation of Lord Vishnu and one of the most popular Incarnation along with Lord Krishna. Ram Navami is celebrated on the 9th day of Shukla Paksha in the Hindu lunar month Chaitra. In 2018, it will be celebrated on Sunday, 25th of March.
Legend Behind Ram Navami :
According to Great Epic Ramayana, once upon a time, there was a King named Dasarath, during his Kingdom, Ayodhya reached a period of great prosperity. However, he had no children and therefore he decided to perform a sacrifice known as "Ashwamedh". He had to observe difficult rituals for this sacrifice. Rishyashring priest was chosen to conduct the sacrifice with utmost accuracy and that was a great event in Ayodhya. The Gods, Gandharvas, Siddhas & Rishis present arid began to pray to Lord Brahma, the Creator of Universe. At that time, Ravan (Demon) was terrorizing the people and all were praying for liberation from his threats. Ravan was given a boon by Lord Brahma that he would never die by the hands of Gods or Gandarvas or Yakshas or Demons. Ravan was very cruel and didnt care for humankind & never included men in his list of potential slayers. Therefore, Lord Brahma declared that Ravan would die by the hands of a man. The Gods went to Lord Vishnu with the request that Dasarath is a Glorious King and asked to take Birth in the wombs of his three queens in four different degrees of his divinity. When Dasarath's sacrifice ended, a shining figure appeared over the sacrificial homam kund and offered a divine beverage to Kind Dasarath known as "Payasam" to be given to his queens Kausalya, Kaikayi and Sumitra. In few months, Kausalya gave birth to Lord Rama, Kaikeyi to Bharat and Sumitra to Lakshman & Shatrugna. Lord Rama was believed to be the embodiment of half degree of Vishnu's divinity. Hence, Lord Rama's birth is celebrated as Ram Navami with great zeal and enthusiasm.
Celebrations of Ram Navami :
At some places, the festival lasts the whole 9 days of Navratri and hence called as "Ram Navratra". It is marked by continuous recitals, Akhand Ramayana Path, Bhajan, Kirtan and distribution of prasad, etc. Pictures of infant Rama are placed on cradles & rocked by devotees. Lord Rama is believed to have been born at noon, hence Temples & Family Shrines are beautifully decorated and traditional prayers are chanted together by the family in the morning. Many followers mark this day by Fasting through the day followed by feasting in the evening.
It is believed that listening to the story of Lord Rama cleanses the soul. Chanting the name of Lord Rama believe to ease the pains of life and lead one to Moksha (salvation).