This year, Ram Navami has assumed a new dimension. The seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu now has a magnificent new abode at the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

However, for the moment, let us look beyond the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya and concentrate on the real significance of Lord Rama’s birthday. The Lord not just holds sway in his birthplace in Ayodhya, but on a whole host of devotees around the globe.

His influence extends all the way down to several Southeast Asian countries where he is equally popular. There is an equally enticing story in the many Ramkathas that have survived to the present day — some 300 versions are known to exist, but of course, Valmiki’s Ramayana remains the best-known.

Film stars like Julia Roberts are also ardent devotees of our Hindu Gods. So, his reach is truly global, and not just in North India. 

Arjun Pereira

He is mentioned equally frequently in Jain and Buddhist religious texts. Therefore, it is incorrect for anyone to claim that Ram’s glory has been revived by the consecration of the Ayodhya Ram Mandir. Lord Rama’s glory is a billion times more than a Mandir, which is only a token of the love and devotion of his bhakts.

There isn’t a school child in India who hasn’t written about Ram, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman in a school essay both in Hindi and English. And of course, his legend remains alive in every Indian heart with renditions of Ram Kathas playing on loudspeakers and being enacted during Ram Lila all through the Dusshera week later in the year.

Ram Navami is a spring festival and falls on the last day of the Chaitra Navratri. The pious recite the 24,000 shlokas of the Ramayana over the week that precedes this day. All through the day, tales of the endearing love story between Ram and Sita, and stories of his valour and dutiful acts towards his father, stepmother and kingdom of Ayodhya are told with many a devotional spin.

People show their devotion to Lord Rama in several ways — they clean their homes thoroughly, and offer fruits and flowers on their family shrines along with bhajans and kirtan as part of the puja. Then, it is also time for a customary temple visit.

For the nine days preceding Ram Navami, only Sattvik food is consumed that allows the body to have a spiritual and moral cleansing.

It is also time for some upright, moral thinking, don’t you think? Once we do that, perhaps, we, like Lord Rama may imbibe some of his qualities that led him to be hailed as Maryada Purushottam, a term referring to Rama as peerless among men.

Maryada signifies propriety of conduct. We too must try to emulate Lord Rama’s conduct and stick to right actions and right conduct in the face of all odds towards our fellow men.

Let us all rise above parochialism and like Lord Rama, love all, irrespective of creed and communities. This will make us worthy of Lord Rama’s love and generosity, making this Ram Navami so very special.

Arjun Pereira, a writer and editor, is also a singer, composer, lyricist and guitarist. He loves the outdoors and is often seen enjoying a vigorous game of tennis both mornings and evenings. He has worked for several leading publishing houses and corporates and loves to travel, soaking in new experiences and cultures.

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Featured Picture: Tej Kumar Book Depo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons