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Hindu Festival

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Ram Navami

Lord Rama was born on the ninth day of the Hindu month Chaitra and that is why that day is called Ram Navami. Ram Navami is one of the most important festivals of the Vaishnav sect of Hindus. In some parts of India, it is a nine-day festival known as Vasanta Navratri.

Ramnavami occurs in the month of March. Celebrations begin with a prayer to the Sun early in the morning. At midday, when Lord Rama is supposed to have been born, a special prayer is performed. In northern India especially, an event that draws popular participation is the Ramnavami procession. The main attraction in this procession is a gaily decorated chariot in which four persons are dressed up as Rama, his brother Laxman, his queen Sita and his disciple Hanuman. The chariot is accompanied by several other persons dressed up in ancient costumes as work by Rama's solders. The procession is a gusty affair with the participants shouting praises echoing the happy days of Rama's reign.

Ram Navami is celebrated with religious fervour. On this day, people observe a fast. Many devotees fast for nine days. In all the Ram mandirs, Aarti and Pooja are performed during the noon hours, the time of Lord Rama's birth. At the end of the rites and rituals, which includes abhishek of Lord Rama and Shiva and chanting of Bhajans, the priest performs the peace chant with sprinkling of consecrated water. Prasad of sweets and fruits is given to people attending the pooja.

Many devotees stay awake on the previous night, in anticipation of Lord Ram's birth. A havan is performed and they sing devotional songs in praise of Lord Ram and rock his image in cradles to celebrate his birth.

On Ram Navami day, all the Ram temples are beautifully decorated. the idols of Lord Ram, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshman are adorned with new clothes, jewellery and flowers. Devotees visit various Ram mandirs and offer sweets, flowers and fruits. Selected chapters on Ramlila of Ramayan are read, the most popular version being Tulsidas's Ramacharitmanas.

A huge fair is held in Ayodhya on Ram Navami day, where thousands of devotees gather to celebrate this festival. Pondicherry is another place where many pilgrims visit the Ram temples. Processions accompanied by splendid floats of Rama, his wife Sita, his brother Lakshman and his monkey-general, Hanuman are carried out with great zest.

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