Tuesday, April 12, 2011


www.hindustantimes.com - With prayers and rituals, Hindus on Tuesday celebrated the festival of Ram Navami, the birth anniversary of Lord Ram, a day that also marked an end to nine days of fasting for some. Across temples and in many homes, devotees sang ‘bhajans’, or devotional songs.  On the morning of Ram Navami, the youngest girl in the family applies ‘tika’ to the men and women of the household.  Everyone participates in a ritual by first sprinkling water and putting ‘roli’ (red powder) on the idols and showering handfuls of rice on the deities.  Then everybody stands up to perform the ‘aarti’ at the end of which water, ideally Gangajal (Ganges water), which is considered holy, is sprinkled over the gathering.
President Pratibha Patil, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday greeted the people on the occasion of Ram Navami, saying it “reinforces the belief that a life of morality is not easy but can be achieved through commitment and compassion.” Extending her greetings, the President hoped that the noble example of love, compassion and humanism of Lord Rama would inspire the people to follow the highest moral and ethical values.  “Let us strive to spread his message of devotion to duty, due restraint and selfless commitment to the well-being of the people,” she said.  Vice President Hamid Ansari asked the people to rededicate themselves to the enlightened teachings of Lord Rama for establishing a peaceful and harmonious society. 

The Hindu world is now celebrating the Sri Ram Navami festival which commemorates the birth of Lord Rama to King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya of Ayodhya.  In his message, the India Prime Minister said the festival commemorates the prosperous and righteous reign of Lord Rama-the Maryada Purushottam.  Besides, the Minister also hoped that the festival would strengthen people’s faith in the goodness of mankind and inspire one and all to lead a virtuous life.  Telling the story of Rama today, during Rama-Navami or Navaratri, bears a special significance.

Dasharatha was the king of Kosala, an ancient kingdom that was located in present day Uttar Pradesh. Ayodhya was its capital.  The childless Dasharatha was advised by his family priest Vashishtha to perform a fire sacrifice ceremony to seek the blessings of God for children.  While performing the fire worship ceremony, a majestic figure rose from the sacrificial fire and handed to Dasharatha a bowl of rice pudding, saying, “God is pleased with you and has asked you to distribute this rice pudding (payasa) to your wives - they will soon bear your children.”  The king received the gift joyfully and distributed the payasa to his three queens, Kausalya, Kaikeyi, and Sumitra. Kausalya, the eldest queen, gave birth to the eldest son Rama.  Bharata, the second son was born to Kaikeyi and Sumitra gave birth to the twins Lakshmana and Shatrughna.  Rama’s birthday is celebrated now as “Ramanavami”.

Stephen Knapp (Śrīpad Nandanandana dasa) :
“The Ramayana Summarized”
http://www.stephen-knapp.com  -  http://www.stephenknapp.info/

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