Saturday, April 13, 2019

Rama Navami Celebrations: Popular Festivals Explained for Kids

Rama Navami is a major Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Shri Rama also known as Shri Ramachandra.  Shri Rama is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. The Rama Navami or the birthday of Shri Rama falls on a propitious day when Punarvasu (புனர்பூசம்) star and the Navami (நவமி), the ninth lunar day of waxing moon period get together in the Tamil month of Panguni (பங்குனி) (English Month: March - April). This post details an overview of this festival for kids.

The god Vishnu is part of the Hindu Trinity, along with Shiva and Brahma. Hindu Sages believed that on any occasion virtue declines and the unjust proliferates, Lord Vishnu will assume an incarnation to eradicate evil forces and to establish righteousness. Lord Vishnu made his seventh incarnation as Shri Rama to establish righteousness.

Dasaratha belongs to Ikshvaku dynasty and ruled his country Ayodhya. Queen Kausalya was the chief-queen of Dasharatha. The other queens were Kaikeki and Sumitra. The couple was suffering from childlessness. The king conducted the Ashwamedha Yagna and the Putra Kameshti ritual for the purpose of obtaining progeny. On the ninth day of the month of Chithirai (Hindu Calendar: Chaithra), when the Punarvasu star was ascendant when the planets Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus were at their exaltation when Jupiter and moon were ascendant in the sign of Cancer, Queen Kausalya gave birth to Shri Rama. The child possessed all divine virtues. It was like a dream come true for the royal couple. It was also a joyous occasion for the citizen of Ayodhya. Lakshmana, Bharata, and Shatrughan were his brothers. He married Sita, the princess of Mithila country and the elder daughter of King Janaka. Valmiki Ramayana narrates the epic biography of Shri Rama. He is the most widely celebrated for his victory over Ravana, the demon ruler of Lanka. The victorious Shri Rama was crowned as the king of Ayodhya. Even now his rule is being exalted as "Rama Rajyam," the virtuous country of Shri Rama.

Rama Navami Celebrations


How Rama Navami is being celebrated? The festival is being celebrated during the spring season (வசந்த ருது). Vaishnavite tradition observes this festival as the most prominent one. The festival is also being celebrated as part of Vasanta Navratri (வசந்த நவராத்திரி) festivity. It is also known as Chaitra Navratri. Most of the schools and colleges allow their students to obtain optional leave.  

The festival is being celebrated in Ayodhya, the birthplace of Shri Rama with religious fervor. Prominent temples like Sri Sita Ramachandraswamy temple, Bhadrachalam (Telangana) celebrates the celestial marriage of Shri Rama with his consort Sita (Sri Sitarama Thirukalyana Mahotsavam). The principal deity is Vaikuntha Rama, a form of Rama not found anywhere else in the country. Annual Brahmotsavam of this temple is being celebrated during this period in Bhadrachalam. Kodandarama Temple located Vontimitta town in Rajampet taluk of Kadapa District, Andhra Pradesh, celebrates Shri Rama Navami officially celebrated by the A.P State Government. Chariot processions (Shobha Yatra) of Shri Rama, consort Sita, brother Lakshmana, and Hanuman are being conducted on this occasion.

The well known Uttaradhi Math and the Mantralaya Raghavender Swamy math organize Shri Rama Navami with the adoration of the Moola Rama icons. On this occasion, the temples and mutts arrange the reading of stories of Shri Rama (Shri Rama Charitha), singing of Shri Rama Bhajans or Rama Kirtanas, music concerts, religious discourses, and drama. Kosambari, a healthy, South Indian moong dal salad made with cucumber, coconut and moong dal, will be offered to one and all as Prasadam Free meals are offered to all in community halls. Some people used to offer clothes to the poor.

People from households wake up early and take a bath in the holy rivers and seashores. The houses will be cleaned and the courtyard used to be decorated with Rangoli Kolams and colorful festoons. Some of them used to remain fast until the day of Shri Rama Navami. Some others may proceed to pilgrimage (yatra) to holy shrines of Shri Rama.

The Indian Hindu diaspora living abroad organize Shri Rama Navami celebrations in their local temples and community halls. The kids and youth enjoy their time in witnessing live music consorts, discourses, Bharatanatyam, drama, etc, during this occasion.

On this auspicious day let us recite the Hanuman Stotra

यत्र यत्र रघुनाथकीर्तनं तत्र तत्र कृतमस्तकांजलिम्
वाष्पवारिपरिपूर्णालोचनं मारुतिं नमत राक्षसान्तकम् ॥
Yatra Yatra Raghunaatha-Kiirtanam Tatra Tatra Krta-Mastaka-Anjalim
Vaasspa-Vaari-Paripuurnnaa-Locanam Maarutim Namata Raakssasa-Antakam ||

1: Wherever the Glories of Raghunatha are Sung, there, with Hands held over His Bowed Head in Salutation, ...
2: and Eyes Filled with Tears, Maruti (Bhakta Hanuman) is Present; I Salute Maruti Who puts an End to the Rakshasas.

நன்மையும் செல்வமும் நாளும் நல்குமே
திண்மையும் பாவமும் சிதைந்து தேயுமே 
சென்மமும் மரணமும் இன்றித் தீருமே
இம்மையே இராம என்று இரண்டு எழுத்தினால்
(கம்பராமாயணம். பாடல் 13. கம்பன்.)


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