The seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu is Lord Rama. The birthday of Lord Rama is celebrated as Sri Ramanavami, and Lord Rama was born in the land of Ayodhya. The word ‘Rama’ literally means who is divinely blissful and who gives joy to others, and one in whom the sages rejoice.
Sri Ramanavami falls on the ninth day of the Hindu lunar year, or Chaitra Masa Shukla paksha Navami, usually in March or April. This day celebrates the birthday and is observed as the marriage day of Rama and Sita. The Ramayana, written by Valmiki, contains the entire life story of Rama and Sita and other principles of Dharma.
Rama as a King and Administrator:
Lord Rama led his life by following all principles of Dharma. He was the perfect example of how a man sustained in society as an ideal person. He was the perfect person and embodiment of compassion, gentleness, kindness and righteousness. He could destroy anything; however, his thoughts were peaceful and gentle.
His administration was ideal to the present administrators also. He understands the problems of his people and solves them as soon as he listens. Hence he never shows pride or prejudice toward simple persons also. In his region, the people never faced drought, and the crops fed abruptly. Therefore there were no sorrows or pains, and all enjoyed their lives and lived peacefully. So His reign in Ayodhya was called Ramarajyam, the epitome of perfect governance.
Birth of Lord Rama:
King Dasharath, the father of Rama, was also a great administrator; during his period, Ayodhya’s reign reached great prosperity. But Dasharath had no children. With Rishi Rishyashring, he performed the ashamed sacrifice in Ayodhya. In the end, a shining figure appeared over the sacrificial kund offering the king some ‘Payasam’ and asking Dasaratha to give the ‘Payasam’ equally to his wives to give birth to the babies. Then Dasarada distributed ‘Payasam’ to all his three wives, and the queens Kausalya gave birth to Rama, Kaikeyi to Bharat and Sumitra to Lakshman and Shatrugna.
Sri Ramanavami Celebrations in Ayodhya:
The festival of Ramanavami is celebrated with great devotion across the nation. Every region has its regional significance behind the celebration. The Hindu devotees believe that the present Ayodhya is once the capital of Lord Rama’s Raghuvamsa dynasty. So Ayodhya is the focus of grand thee celebrations held for two days. In the early morning, the devotees decorate the temple for the Navami celebrations. All the devotees gather at the nearby Rama temple and start worship with morning ablutions; the priests chant the Vedic mantras to dedicate Vishnu, Lord Rama’s incarnation.
The devotees follow the sacred fast and sincerely serve Lord Rama. The fast breaks only at midnight by taking the fruits. In the final hours, devotees put Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and devotee Hanuman idols in a chariot and drag them devotees through the streets of the villages and towns. This is called ‘Chariot processions.’
Sri Ramanavami celebrations in South India:
In South India, the festival celebrates on a grand scale for nine days. The devotees participate in the celebration with great devotion. Thousands of devotees and tourists from different places join during Rama Navami days to feel the religious excitement.
Sri Ramanavami Ceremonies:
In the early morning of the festival, the devotees wake up, clean the house, and decorate it with coloured paper and flowers. Later they prepare the fruits and sweets to offer God Rama at the temple. The female members of the family apply a red Tilak to all the other family members and lead the puja ceremony with great devotion. All the family members sit before Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman Idols and chant shlokas regarding Lord Rama.
The Popular Bhajans:
The Hindu devotees perform the famous Bhajans; they are
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
another one is
Sri Rama Rama Rameti Rame Raame Manorame
Shasra Nama Tat Tulyam Rama Nama Varanane
Sri Rama Nama Varanane Iti