Ramanavami: Hindus celebrate the virtuous stories, peaceful reign of Rama

Crowds gather at before inset icons in fancy building, with ornate pillars separating religious statues

Adherents gather for the Ramanavami festival in Mumbai. Photo by Os Rupias, courtesy of Flickr

SATURDAY, MARCH 28: Hindus across India and worldwide have been reading and reciting the epic Ramayana all week, and today, activities culminate with the anticipated festival of Ramanavami. (Spellings vary.) Celebrated as the birth of Lord Rama, the seventh avatar of Vishnu, Rama was the long-awaited heir of King Dasharath of Ayodhya. During the reign of Sri Rama, his kingdom experienced an era of peace, prosperity and happiness. The epic Ramayana tells the exciting and thrilling adventures of Rama, and it is widely believed that listening to the story of Rama cleanses the soul. On Ramanavami, Hindus bring to mind the righteous ways of the land that existed while Rama reigned.

Did you know? Legend has it that Rama was born at noon.

Many adherents fast on Ramanavami, avoiding onions, wheat products and several other foods. In homes, pictures of Lord Rama, his wife, Sita, Hanuman and Lakshman are set in a place of importance, and puja is performed with joy. Images of the infant Rama are placed in cradles and rocked, and community meals are common grounds for sharing the gaiety of the festival. At temples, fruits and flowers, Vedic chants and mantras are offered to Sri Rama. In South India, the wedding of Rama and Sita is ceremonially recognized, and in other regions, chariot processions draw crowds of thousands. In much of North India, fireworks culminate the events of Ramanavami.

Along with Sri Rama, Swaminarayan was also born on this day. Some Hindus also celebrate Swaminarayan Jayanati.

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