TUESDAY, APRIL 12: Men, women and children across India continue to celebrate their recent victory in the Cricket World Cup—and the Times of India says its high time to give thanks! According to the Times, many fans prayed to Lord Rama and Hanuman for that hard-won victory—and it’s an auspicious moment to pay respects. After all, Sri Rama’s festival is today and Hanuman’s is April 18. (Check out the article here.) The Times isn’t kidding about this. Hindus have been flooding temples in thanksgiving for the cricket win for more than a week and, today, they culminate another string of celebrations: the nine-day Chaitra-Navratri festivities.
Strict devotees of Rama have been fasting for nine days in preparation for Rama Navami, and in some regions of India, recitals have been continuously running for several days. Skilled storytellers have been attracting crowds with their dramatic recitations of the Ramayana, a Sanskrit epic that details Sri Rama’s life. (I Love India has more.)
Rama Navami officially marks the birth of Sri Rama, the 7th incarnation of Lord Vishnu and a prosperous leader of ancient India. Devotees today rock infant forms of Sri Rama; elaborately decorate temples and family shrines; pray and chant; bathe; and partake in a day-long fast that ends in evening feasting. (Find all the info on this year’s festivities at The Hindu.) A Rama Navami procession in Northern India boasts a decorated chariot with costumed actors, while a ceremonial wedding for Sri Rama takes place in Southern India. (Wikipedia has details.)
Mahatma Gandhi referred to Sri Rama’s peaceful, prosperous reign as “Rama Rajya,” a period that he hoped could be duplicated in India. It’s believed that hearing Rama’s story cleanses the soul, and chanting his name to soothe a baby to sleep is common in Hindu culture.
Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.