Ram navami occurs in the month of March. The festival is dedicated to the memory of Lord Rama. Lord Rama is a legendary figure, the epitome of all that is good and true. Bhajans praising the exploits of Lord Rama, his devoted wife Sita, loyal brother Lakshman and devotee Hanuman are sung.
The house is swept clean and pictures of Lord Rama, Lakshman, Sita and Hanuman are put on a dais in preparation for the puja. Celebrations begin with a prayer to the Sun early in the morning. Some people choose to fast on this day. It is considered auspicious to undertake a fast on the day in the name of Rama. The more devout fast for nine days, from Ugadi to Rama Navami. Eating fruit, root vegetables of any kind, Curd, tea, coffee, milk, and water are also permitted on fasting days.
Lord Rama is not just a hero, but has been given the status of a god by the Hindus. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that his birth is celebrated year after year with great pomp and enjoyment. Rama is also known as Raghunatha, Raghupati, Raghavendra, Raghunandana etc and all these names begin with the prefix Raghu. Raghu means Sun and Rama’s dynasty considered themselves to have descended from the Sun. This could have led to the tagging on, of Rama’s birthday to a festival devoted to the sun. According to legend, Rama was born at noon. Rama is the epitome of perfection, the uttama purusha, fulfilling all his duties towards both family and subjects.
Everyone participates in the puja by first sprinkling the water, roli, and aipun on the pictures or idol of Lord Rama and then showering handfuls of rice on the deities. Then everybody stands up to perform the arti at the end of which ganga jal or plain water is sprinkled over the gathering. In northern India especially, an event that draws popular participation is the Ramnavami procession. The main attraction in this procession is a gaily decorated chariot in which four persons are dressed up as Rama, his brother Laxman, his queen Sita and his disciple Hanuman. Many places in North India host fairs in connection with the festival and festival ends with distribution of prasad among all the people who have gathered for worship. Some temples even offer Annadanam. The word ‘Annadanam’ means ‘free feeding of people’. It is usually conducted in temples and ashrams. It is believed that listening to the story of Rama cleanses the soul and chanting his name is believed to ease the pains of life and lead one to moksha, or liberation.