We celebrate the festival on the ninth day of the new moon in the month of Chaitia to mark the birth of Lord Ram and his three brothers, Bharat, Lakshman and Shatrughan.
Although this festival is primarily to remember Lord Ram on his birthday, in some parts of India devotees also mark the nine days of Ram Naumi as Nao Ratri (nine nights).
In parts of India, Sri Ram Naumi is also celebrated as a Nao Ratri. Nao Ratri is the festival best known for worship of the three main Goddesses – Saraswati, Laxmi and Mahakali)
Some devotees also believe that the first two weeks of the Chaitria month are like the Pitra Paksh (Shradh), although the main Shradh according to Hindu Vedas falls in the dark side of the month of Ashwin (September/October).
Lord Ram’s father Raja Dashrath was the king of Ayodhya. He had three wives: Kaushaliya, Kekei and Sumintra – and all three Queens could not bear any children to succeed the beloved King.
In Ayodhya in those times of Tretha Yugh, there was never a shortage of anything, and all the surrounded communities were always happy. However, the King Dasrath long desired for a successor to his rule.
One day amidst his rituals, the King realised a kingdom without a successor is doomed. So he asked his ancestral guru (godfather) for help in getting a child. Guru Vashist Muni recommended doing a hawan (a fire ceremony) to get blessing from Agni Deva (the Fire God). His guru said that in times of sorrow devotees like Raja Dasrath should keep calm and find peace by pleasing our respective Gods and Godesses by making offerings like hawan and chanting their mantras.
Guru Vashist assured the king that he will have four sons. Soon after the Hawan ceremony, Lord Agni emerged from the hawan kund ( a kund is where the offerings are made) and gave some blessed khir (sweet rice) to the King Dasrath for his three wives to have.
Soon after, the three queens of Ayodhya were pregnant. Queen Kaushaliya who gave birth to Lord Ram - the eldest of the four brothers. Queen Kekei gave birth to Bharat while the youngest queen Sumintra had Lakshman and Shatrughan.
Lord Ram was born at sharp midday on the ninth day of the bright side of the month of Chaitra. (In contrast Lord Krishna was born at midnight in the dark side of the month of Bhadrapath – around August of every year)
Tulsidaas, the great narrator who wrote the Ramayana as we know it today, noted that Lord Vishnu came to earth for protection of four main beings:
Lord Vishnu gave in to calls for his avatar (reincarnation) principally to destroy the demon king, Ravan, and allow the brahmans and saints to worship freely again. It was after all the devis and devtas together with Mother earth (in the form of a holy cow) went to Lord Vishnu that he agreed to transcend on earth.
Lord Ram is one of 24th reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. His leelas and preachings are enshrined in the Ramayana and it is often compared to that of Lord Krishna – who gave us Srimadh Bhagvadh Geeta.
Today Ramayana is recited in more than 100 countries in as many languages. It is considered more auspicious to recite the Ramayana during the Ram Naumi celebrations.
It was also during this month on the Purnima day (full month) that Lord Hanuman, a reincarnation of Lord Shiva, was born. This year it falls on Saturday 4th April.
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