Ram Navami is an important festival in India celebrated as the birthday of Ram, the King of Ayodhya, who is considered one of the greatest ideals by Indian because of his selfless devotion to duty towards his family as well as the people, and his great courage and leadership qualities. His story, known as Ramayan, is one of greatest epics of ancient times.
Ramayan or the story of Ram is one of the world’s most ancient epics, written around 4500 years ago, though many of its translations and versions in different languages appear later in history. While it may be difficult to scientifically prove about his actual existence, the birthday of Ram is still celebrated throughout India as one of the major festivals.
Ram Navami – A Popular Festival of India
RAM NAVAMI is a popular Hindu festival, celebrated to commemorate the birth of RAM, a king in ancient India, who is considered an incarnation of the almighty god, and an example of an ideal human being.
Ram Navami falls on the ninth day of the first lunar month, called CHAITRA, which also coincides with ripening of harvest in spring. In 2018, it will be celebrated on March 25.
Birth & Life of Ram
Ram’s father, king Dashrath, had three wives, KAUSHALYA, SUMITRA and KAIKAYEE. Ram was the son of Dashratha and Kaushalya.
Traditionally, the eldest son inherited the throne of the king. However, Dashratha had once promised his second wife, KAIKAYEE, who had once saved his life during a hunting session, that he will grant her two wishes whenever she wanted. Kaikayee, wanting to make his son the king, demanded that her son, Bharata may be made the king and Ram may be sent to the forest for fourteen years.
King Dashratha belonged to the Raghu dynasty, which was famous for keeping their word. Dashratha was faced with a dilemma, as he could neither punish his innocent son, nor get back on his word.
When Ram came to know of his father’s dilemma, he decided himself to fulfil his father’s promise. He abdicated the throne and went to the forest. Dashratha could not stop him, and died as a sorry father. When Bharat, his step-brother, who was away during all these happenings, came to know about all this, he scolded his mother and tried to bring back Ram, but Ram refused as he considered it his duty to keep his father’s promise and his ancestor’s tradition of respecting a promise even at the cost of life.
Later, in the forest, his wife, SITA, was abducted by demon king RAVAN, of Sri Lanka. Ram fought Ravan, with the help of forest tribals (VAN-NARS), killed Ravan and thereby became an eternal symbol of victory of good over evil. His story is preserved as an epic titled RAMAYAN, the world’s most ancient epic, written between 4000 to 4500 years ago (two thousand years before Buddha) in Sanskrit.
Ram's Life - An Example to Follow for All
Ram was considered an incarnation of Vishnu and worshipped even during his life-time. His life was a living example of how an ideal human being should strive to be. Ram was an ideal son, an ideal student, an ideal soldier, an ideal husband, an ideal brother, an ideal citizen and finally, an ideal king. His whole life is treated as the domination of good over evil, both within and outside ourselves. His willingness to sacrifice worldly pleasures, material wealth and power for the values he cherished inspired all subsequent generations. His legacy has always remained and became part and parcel of the Indian civilization.
The Festival of Ram Navami
All Hindu religious festivals are occasions of social festivities that overshadow the religious component. It concludes nine day celebrations called CHAITRA NAVRATRI, beginning with the festival of GUDI PADWA in North India. In Southern India, especially the state of Andhra Pradesh, this nine day festival is called VASANTHOTSAV (celebration of spring), which begins with the festival of UGADI, and ends with Ram Navami.
Like all religious festivals, Ram Navami is also marked by day long festivities, consisting of religious prayers and rituals held mostly at the noon, and meeting with relatives and family members. Artisans use this occasion to sell their handmade articles depicting the life of Ram. In small villages and towns, it is time to hold local markets, where sellers from different parts come to sell their products.
Ram: History or Fiction
Though the era of Ram belongs to a very old time, there are many archaeological evidences that suggest the existence of Ram. Recently, 2600 years old coins with Ram, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman have been excavated in the city of Jaipur. Another important evidence in favour exists in the form of all the different places mentioned in the story of Ram, which he crossed during the fourteen years of his exile over a stretch of over 1000 km, and at each of these places, there is some memoir or temple suggesting a link with Ram. Most important of them is the remnant bridge made by Ram and his army to cross the PALK STRAIT, the stretch of Sea between India and Sri Lanka, which is exactly in the form described in RAMAYAN, the poem epic in Sanskrit narrating the story of Ram.
Archaeological evidence apart, the story of Ram is documented around the globe by way of not only oral tradition, but also written epics, tales and fables since several thousand years. The story is extremely popular and has been adopted in various forms of art and literature not only in India, but several adjoining countries in South East Asia.
It would be impossible to negate these evidences as mere fiction, for it would mean that several billion people over several thousand years have been celebrating a fictitious story. The timeline and number of people that have been celebrating it as reality, dwarfs any other story, whether fact or fiction, by an incomparable margin.
The philosophy of Buddhism and Jainism prospered in ancient India, reaching their zenith in the centuries immediately preceding Christianity. While there is not enough evidence to suggest their impact on Christianity, there are several striking similarities.
Shiva means benevolent, and represents the form of God that brings about creative destruction of old so as to make way for the new. Maha Shivratri has its origin in the mythological story of Shiva indulging in Tandava after her wife, Sati gave up her life on being insulted by her father looked down on Shiva.
This legend is celebrated on Janmashtami by people keeping fast, singing devotional songs of love for Krishna, and keeping a vigil into the night. After Krishna's midnight hour birth, statues of baby Krishna are washed and clothed, then placed in a cradle. The devotees then break their fast, by sharing food and sweets.