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Ram Navami, the birthday of Lord Ram, is a major Hindu festival celebrated all over the country by all the sects of the Hindu fold. Ram, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu was born on the ninth day of the bright half of the lunar month Chaitra in the Treta Yug, the Second Age. Ram is called Maryada Purshottam — a man par-excellence. His very name conjures up a long and uninterrupted cultural history of a vast country, representing the inner most strain of unity among its myriad diversities, his name has dominated and moulded the spiritual and cultural life of a whole country through different ages of its history, whatever the verdict of the historian — whether a historical character of a legendary figure. Ram was the perfect man and in the words of Swami Vivekananda, he was "the ideal son, the ideal husband, the ideal father and above all the ideal king."

The celebrated magnum opus of Adikari Valmiki 'The RAM AY AN A' describes his birth in the following way : "Then after the expiry of six seasons and on the completion of the twelfth month (by Hindu Calendar), on the ninth lunar day of the month of Chaitra, under the star Punarvasu, with the Sun, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter and Venus in Aries, Capricorn, Libra, Cancer and Pisces and when the moon with Jupiter entered Cancer of the Zodiac, Kaushalya gave birth to great and prosperous Ram with mighty arms and lotus eyes'.

" The festival preparations start early in the morning with people taking bath in the holy waters and throwing at the temples of Lord Ram which abound every nook and corner of the country. People also keep fast till 12, noon when the Avataar is supposed to have taken place. The ritualistic puja is simple and is done in the morning. Some people, as usual, take only 'phalahar' in the afternoon. 'Phalahar' consists of a sweet made of khyoya; potatoes or calacosia (arbi or ghuyeeya) made in any form without the use of haldi, garlic or onion. In 'phalahar', all root vegetables are allowed to be consumed but no green vegetables. Fruit of every kind is allowed. The 'puris' are made of 'kuttoo or singhare-ka-atta'. Curds are also allowed during this fast. Since Ram was born at noon, the puja is performed — singing various shlokas, hymns, etc. and ending with distribution of Panjeeree,

charanamrita, fruits and sweets . In Ayodhya, the birth place of Sri Rama, great celebrations are performed and the temples are richly decorated. Ramayan is read and recited and a great fair is held. At other places also, icons of Ram, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman are decorated and ceremoniously taken in the procession. Chanting of the holy name of Rama and listening to holy discourses are the common features of this day's celebration. Tulsidas says that placing the name of Ram on the tip of your is ensuring enlightenment both in and out of your personality.

Ramnavami is also celebrated as the Vasanta Navaratri festival with the celebration starting from the first lunar day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra. More about Navaratri celebrations will he given in the heading 'Durga Puja' held before Dussehra since the ritual is similar.