Why Do We Celebrate Ram Navami?

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A long time ago, a kingdom named Awadh was ruled by king Dasrath. Dasrath was the perfect king. Loved by his people, just and noble, a great husband, and a mighty warrior. But there was something that he wanted desperately- a child. He was doing everything, from sacrifices to rituals, yet remained empty-handed. After years of pain and desperation, finally, the gods gave him what he wanted. In one of his Yajnas, the fire god Agni came out of the fire pit and handed him a pot of kheer. This kheer when eaten would make his wives conceive a baby. Kausalya, his first wife, ate the biggest share. Kaikeyi, his second wife too ate her share. Both of them gave a little of their share to the youngest wife Sumitra.

Kausalya gave birth to Rama, Kaikeyi to Bharat, and Sumitra who had eaten twice gave birth to Laxman and Shatrughan. Laxman was born from the share of Kausalya so he became close to Rama whereas Shatrughan became close to Bharat. This day falls on the ninth day of Chaitra month of the Hindu calendar. The whole kingdom of Awadh celebrated the birth of these princes. From there on we have been celebrating this as a festival called Ram Navami.

Rama was not any ordinary prince. He was the avatar of Lord Vishnu, who was born on this earth to end the terror reign of demon king Ravana. Mother earth, who was pained by the cruelty and violence of Ravana had pleaded God Vishnu to do something. Vishnu had promised her that he would kill Ravana through one of his avatars named Rama. Soon after the birth of Rama, mother earth gave birth to her daughter, named Sita. Sita was to help Rama in the destruction of Ravana.

What started as a celebration of birth became a celebration of life. Throughout his life, Rama taught humankind many lessons.

As a son, he accepted the exile of fourteen years to keep the dignity of his father. He gave up his life of comfort and plenty and lived in a forest without once arguing against his father.

As a husband, he scaled the entire India in search of his wife Sita. He fought and won every obstacle that came into his way.

As a friend, he fulfilled all his promises. He helped Sugriv amid his crisis and gave the kingdom of Lanka to Vibhisana.

As a King, he gave his duty the highest priority. Between Sita and the people of Awadh, he chose the people. Ram Rajya, a name given to his reign, was so crime-free that people lived in houses with no doors.

As an enemy, he never underestimated the powers of opposition. He also never insulted or hated Ravana. Even on the verge of war, Rama sent a peace offering to Ravana. After killing Ravana, Rama also spent a year of repentance in the Himalayas. Only Rama could see whatever good was left in Ravana.

This day also celebrates the victory of Rama over Ravana. This victory symbolizes much more than God's victory over a Demon. It symbolizes the victory of good over evil, humbleness over arrogance, calm over anger, content over jealous, selfless over selfish, and right over wrong.

Though different regions celebrate the festival differently, chanting and singing of Ramayana is a common practice. Elders of the house make sure the younger generation learn the lessons from Ramayana. Each character has its own story, own dilemmas, own mistakes, and its wisdom to give. The wisdom to guide us through this labyrinth of life. The wisdom passed down by hundreds of generations.

Kausalya gave birth to Rama, Kaikeyi to Bharat, and Sumitra gave birth to Laxman and Shatrughan. From there on we have been celebrating this as a festival called Ram Navami.