Rama Navami is a spring Hindu festival that celebrates the birthday of lord Rama. He is particularly important to the Vaishnavism tradition of Hinduism, as the seventh avatar of Vishnu. The festival celebrates the descent of god Vishnu as Rama avatar, through his birth to King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya in Ayodhya. The festival is a part of the spring Navratri, and falls on the ninth day of the bright half (Shukla Paksha) in the Hindu calendar month of Chaitra. This typically occurs in the Gregorian months of March or April every year. Rama Navami is an optional government holiday in India.
The day is marked by Rama Katha recitals, or reading of Rama stories. Ramayana and Mahabharata are considered Itihasa by Indian traditions. Some Vaishnava Hindus visit a temple, others pray within their home, and some participate in a bhajan or kirtan with music as a part of puja and aarti. Some devotees mark the event by taking miniature statues of the infant Rama, washing it and clothing it, then placing it in a cradle. Charitable events and community meals are also organized. The festival is an occasion for moral reflection for many Hindus. Some mark this day by vrata (fasting).
The important celebrations on this day take place at Ayodhya and Sita Samahit Sthal (Uttar Pradesh), Sitamarhi (Bihar), Janakpurdham (Nepal), Bhadrachalam (Telangana), Kodandarama Temple, Vontimitta (Andhra Pradesh) and Rameswaram (Tamil Nadu). Rathayatras, the chariot processions, also known as Shobha yatras of Rama, Sita, his brother Lakshmana and Hanuman, are taken out at several places. In Ayodhya, many take a dip in the sacred river Sarayu and then visit the Rama temple
The day is the ninth and last day of Chaitra Navaratri (not to be confused with the autumn Navratri). It celebrates the arrival of Vishnu's 7th avatar, god Rama. It is marked by the faithfuls with puja (devotional worship) such as bhajan and kirtan, by fasting and reading passages about Rama's life. Special cities in the Ramayana legends about Rama's life observe major celebrations. These include Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh), Rameswaram (Tamil Nadu), Bhadrachalam (Telangana) and Sitamarhi (Bihar). Some locations organize Rath-yatras (chariot processions), while some celebrate it as the wedding anniversary festival (Kalyanotsavam) of Rama and Sita.
While the festival is named after Rama, the festival typically includes reverence for Sita, Lakshmana and Hanumana given their importance in Rama's story. Some Vaishnava Hindus observe the festival in Hindu temples, some observe it within their homes. Surya, the Hindu sun god, is a part of the worship and ceremonies in some communities. Some Vaishnava communities observe all nine days of Chaitra Navaratri remembering Rama, and reading the Ramayana, with some temples organizing special discussion sessions in the evening. Charitable events to help those in need and community meals are organized by temples and Vaishnava organizations, and for many Hindus it is an occasion for moral reflection.
In Karnataka, Sri Ramanavami is celebrated by the local Mandalis (organizations) at some places even on footpaths, dispersing free panaka (jaggery and crushed muskmelon juice) and some food. Additionally, in Bengaluru, Karnataka, the Sree Ramaseva Mandali, R.C.T (R.) Chamrajpet, organizes India's most prestigious, month-long classical music festival. The uniqueness of this 80 years old musical extravaganza is that celebrated Indian classical musicians, irrespective of their religion, from both genres – Carnatic and Hindustani – descend down to offer their musical rendition to Lord Sri Rama and the assembled audience.
In eastern Indian states such as Odisha, Jharkhand, and West Bengal, the Jagannath temples and regional Vaishnava community observe Rama Navami, and treat it as the day when preparations begin for their annual Jagannath Ratha Yatra in summer.
Devotees associated with ISKCON fast through the daylight hours. A number of ISKCON temples introduced a more prominent celebration of the occasion of the holiday with the view of addressing needs of growing native Hindu congregation. It is however always was a notable calendar event on the traditional Gaurabda calendar with a specific additional requirement of fasting by devotees
Rama Navami is one of the Hindu festivals that is celebrated by g the Indian Hindu diaspora with roots in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The descendants of Indian indentured servants, for example, who arrived in colonial South Africa before 1910 to work in British owned plantations and mines, thereafter lived through the South African Apartheid regime, continued to celebrate Ram Navami by reciting Ramayana, and by singing bhajans of Tyagaraja and Bhadrachala Ramdas. The tradition continues in contemporary times in the Hindu temples of Durban every year.
Similarly in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Jamaica, other Caribbean countries, Mauritius, Malaysia, Singapore, and many other countries Hindu descendants of colonial era indentured workers brought by the British government from India have continued to observe Ram Navami along with their other traditional festivals.
It is also celebrated by Hindus in Fiji, and those Fiji Hindus who have re-migrated elsewhere