Rites and Rituals

Some people choose to fast on this day. Rama, his loyal brother Lakshman and his devoted wife Sita are sung. The house is swept clean and pictures of Lord Rama, Lakshman, Sita and Hanuman are put on a dais in preparation for the puja. Flowers and incense are kept before the deities. There are two thaalis kept ready in the puja area. One contains the prasad and the other the items necessary for the puja like roli, aipun, rice, water, flowers, a bell and a conch.

First, the youngest female member of the family applies teeka to all the male members of the family. A red bindi is applied on the foreheads of all the female members. Everyone participates in the puja by first sprinkling the water, roli, and aipun on the gods and then showering handfuls of rice on the deities. Then everybody stands up to perform the arti at the end of which ganga jal or plain water is sprinkled over the gathering. The singing of bhajans goes on for the entire puja. Finally, the prasad is distributed among all the people who have gathered for worship.

Andhra Pradesh: Somewhat like in Ayodhya, in Andhra Pradesh too, Ram Navami is a major festival celebrated with great religious fervour and devotion. It is celebrated for 10 days from the Chaitra saptami to the Bahula Padyami that fall in the month of March and April. Rambhaktas visit temples where Rama's birthday is celebrated by the reenactment of his marriage to Sita. For this reason Ram Navami is also called the Kalyanotsavam .

The most elaborate celebrations in Andhra Pradesh are held in the Bhadrachalam temple. The puja begins with chanting of Vedic mantras, and is followed by the customary offering of flowers and fruits to the god. Most people keep a daylong fast that is broken at midnight by eating the prasadam . In the temple, the wedding between Ram and Sita is enacted on a grand scale.

In South India: Besides the usual fasting and prayers, a most delightful tradition that is practised as a part of the Ram Navami celebrations in south India is the narration of stories. Talented storytellers are known to narrate episodes of the Ramayana adding local flavour and humour to it. This is essentially a folk tradition and still continues in villages and small towns.