April 23, 2013

Shri Rama Navami

The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India. Ramayana tells the story of Lord Rama, one of the most revered & celebrated Gods through out India.  He is the seventh incarnation of the Hindu supreme God Vishnu. The purpose of this Ramavatar is to kill Ravanasuran, destroy evil and establish dharma.

Lord Rama is portrayed as an epitome of virtue through-out Ramayana. Lord Rama is praised for some of the finest qualities like patience, truthfulness, conduct, compassion, courage, knowledge, veneration for elders, monogamy (eka patni vridham) etc., and he is said to have possessed & mastered all these qualities even during the harsh tests of time. In a sense, Ramayana explores human values and the concept of Dharma.

The life of Rama starts as the eldest son of King Dasaratha. To fulfill a promise made by his father, Lord Rama exiles to forest for 14 years along with his wife Sita, and his brother Lakshmana. In the forest, Sita gets abducted by Ravana, king of Srilanka. The story, then goes on to depict how Rama kills Ravana with the help of Vanarasena (army of monkeys) and saves Sita.

Shri Rama Navami is a Hindu festival to celebrate Lord Rama 's birthday. On this day, Lord Rama's devotees observe fasting, read/listen to Ramayana, prepare panagam, neer more, moongdal kosumalli, sweet (usually payasam) for neivedhyam.

There are some interesting stories behind offering these as prasadam. Lord Rama having to spend about 14 years in the jungle lived mostly on panagam (a drink made of jaggery & lime juice), neer more (flavored buttermilk), kosumalli (made of moongdal) and so, we prepare these items to remember & praise all the hardships that Lord Rama went through during his exile. There is another version which says that we offer panagam & neer more to cool Lord Rama down as Shri Rama Navami usually falls at the start of Summer.

Check out my posts on Shri Rama Navami specials.
- Neer More
- Moongdal Kosumalli
- Kadalai Paruppu Payasam

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