Rama was an incarnation of Vishnu and the hero of the Ramayana, the Sanskrit epic of 24,000 stanzas.
A continuous recital of the book takes place for about a week prior to the celebration and on the day itself, the highlights of the story are read in the temple.
Rituals and ceremonies
The house is thoroughly cleaned on Rama Navami and is also decorated. Offerings of fruit and flowers are placed on the family shrine and after an early bath, prayers are recited.
The youngest female member of the household leads the puja (prayers) by applying a red tilak (mark) to all the other members of the family before everyone joins together in worship.
An image or picture of baby Rama is placed in a covered cradle. At noon the covering is removed and Prasad (special sacred food) is offered to Rama, which may then be shared amongst the congregation.
There is an element of fasting. Some people don’t eat certain foods, particularly things like onions, garlic, some spices and wheat products.
The festival is a focal point for moral reflection and being especially charitable to others.
Celebrations at places associated with Sri Rama, like Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh and Ramesvaram in Tamil Nadu, attract thousands of devotees.