Rama Navami: Hindus honor Lord Rama, following reading period of Ramayana Week

A devotee observes Rama Navami. Photo by Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission Belur Math, courtesy of Flickr

THURSDAY, MARCH 30: The story of Lord Rama has been read, recited, and reviewed by Hindus worldwide, during a period known as Ramayana Week—all leading up to today’s climactic festival, Ram Navami. (Spellings vary; Ramanavami and Ramnavami are also common spellings.)

NEWS 2023: The Iskcon Temple in New Delhi will be organizing 25th-anniversary celebrations March 26-30, with more than 4,000 guests expected for the events. (Read more here.) The temple was inaugurated on Rama Navami in 1998.


Celebrated as the birth of Lord Rama, the seventh avatar of Vishnu, Ram Navami recalls the righteous, peaceful and presperous reign of the ancient kingdom under Sri Rama. The epic Ramayana, read during Ramayana Week, tells the exciting and thrilling adventures of Rama and the widespread anticipation of the long-awaited heir of King Dasharath of Ayodhya. Many Hindus believe that listening to the story of Rama cleanses the soul.

Did you know? According to studies, the birth of Rama may have been in January of 4114 BCE.

Legend has it that Rama was born at noon: Rama’s dynasty has been linked with the sun, and at noon, the sun is at its brightest. At home, Hindus set pictures of Lord Rama, his wife (Sita), Hanuman and Lakshman in places of importance; puja is performed with joy. It is common to fast from onions, wheat products and several other foods on Ramanavami, and community meals free of these foods share the gaiety of the festival. In 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, while in parts of North India, chariot processions attract thousands of visitors. (This year, due to pandemic guidelines, some festivities will be withheld or altered.)

Did you know? Gandhi said that Ramrajya, the peaceful reign of Lord Rama, would be the ideal state of India following independence.


While the majority of India is celebrating Sri Rama, many Hindus also recall the birthday of the founder of the Swaminarayan tradition within Hinduism. In stark contrast to the millennia-old commemorations of most Hindu deities, this jayanti marks the birth of an 18th-century figure who lived into the 19th century. Lord Swaminarayan was born in North India and traveled across the country as a social and moral reformer. Today, his devotees sing, fast and offer food at temples, with a late culmination at 10:10 p.m.—the documented time of his birth.


Hanuman Jayanti: Hindus worship monkey god, Vanara race

SATURDAY, APRIL 4: Elaborate Ramanavami celebrations began eight days ago in most Hindu communities, and today, many will mark the jayanti of an ardent devotee of Rama: Hanuman, the Vanara god known informally as “the monkey god.” On Hanuman Jayanti, Hindus visit temples at dawn—as it’s believed Hanuman was born at sunrise—and worship the deity. (Wikipedia has details.) Though dates for Hanuman Jayanti vary throughout India, most observe his jayanti today.

In Hindu legend, Hanuman is a symbol of strength, courage, self-control and humility. Hanuman is the greatest and most loyal devotee of Lord Rama, and because of this, Hindus believe that he was granted immortality. Hanuman is said to be able to assume any form, and he remains one of the most adored deities in Hinduism. Many fast on Hanuman Jayanti, or the day prior.

Why a monkey god? A few thousand years before Ramayan time—approximately 2 million years ago—Hinduism teaches that several divine souls came to earth and embodied ape-like creatures. The ape-like bodies became vehicles for the divine souls, and this uniquely modified group became known, in Hinduism, as the Vanara race. (Learn more from Hindu-blog.) Hanuman was born into the Vanara community. Today, all Hanuman temples bear the reddish-orange hue distinctive of the ape-like Vanara.

Hanuman Jayanti: Hindus worship divine courage, fearlessness

TUESDAY, APRIL 15: In many regions of India, this is the annual celebration of the birth of a “monkey-god”—Hanuman Jayanti. Ever a steadfast and ardent devotee of Lord Rama, Hanuman often is honored along with Lord Rama; devotees of Hanuman hope to obtain his strength and energy. The Ramayana and other texts detail his crediting all superhuman powers to Lord Rama, labeling himself only as a servant of the deity.

It is believed that Hanuman can assume any form. Yet, most notably, Hanuman is known for his humility. (Learn more at Taj Online.) On his jayanti, Hindus across India flock to Hanuman temples, recite Hanuman Chalisa (song of Hanuman) and apply a reddish-orange tilaka to their foreheads, signifying the color of the monkey-god.

Festivities for Hanuman Jayanti begin early, with pujas, trips to the temple and special prayers. Prayers and hymns continue throughout the day, as devotees look to Lord Hanuman to avert evil, bring courage and deliver willpower. (Wikipedia has details.) Many Hindus fast and read the Hunuman Chalisa on his jayanti, before joining in Prasad—an offering of food distributed among devotees. (Read about this, and the many other holidays occurring in India this week, from Times of India.)

Did you know? Hanuman avatar is considered the 11th Rudra avatar of Lord Siva.

Sri Hanuman enjoys great popularity in India, and the monkey-god also is well known in Hindu communities worldwide. In Trinidad and Tobago, Hanuman statues reach 15-, 25- and even 85-foot. Newsday reports that devotees will sing Hanuman Chalisa 108 times, uninterrupted, for the ideal yogi and beloved deity.