Ram Navami

What is Ram Navami:

Ram Navami celebrates the birth of Rama or Ramachandra. The festival is celebrated on the ninth day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month of Chaitra. It was on this day that Vishnu incarnated as Rama through Dasharatha's wife Kaushalya.
In some parts of India, it is a nine-day festival, coinciding with the Vasanta Navaratri.It finds mention in ancient texts and literature. This year it falls on 1st April,2012.

History of Ram Navami:

In the epic Ramayana, Dasharatha, the Emperor from Ayodhya, had three wives named Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi. Their greatest worry was that they had no children. Rishi Vasistha suggests him to perform Puthra Kamesti Yagna, through which he can have a desired child. As the result of this yagna, Yagneshwara appears and provides Dasharatha a bowl of divine pudding (Kheer/Payasam) and requests him to give it to his wives.

Dasharatha divided 'kheer'among his wives, After few days all three Queens conceive. On the ninth day (Navami) of Chaithra Masa (last month in Vedic calendar), at noon Kausalya gives birth to Rama, Kaikeyi gives birth to Bharata, and Sumitra to twin boys, Lakshmana and Shatrughna.

On Ram Navami day:

The public worship starts with morning ablutions, chanting Vedic mantras dedicated to Vishnu, and offering flowers and fruit to the god. People keep a fast throughout the day, breaking it only at midnight with fruit.

In some parts of India, especially Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, public gatherings called satsangs are organized to commemorate the birth of Rama. Excerpts from the Ramacharitamanas, extolling the glory of Rama, are recited. People of all castes and creeds participate in these gatherings to listen to the stories and their explanations offered by the learned.

Celebrations in different states of India:

It enthusiastically celebrated all over India. Several temples of Sree Ram celebrate this festival for nine days, beginning from the first day (pratipada) of the Hindu month of Chaitra. It is celebrated by periodic readings (parayans) of the Ramayan, organising and attending spiritual discourses (kirtans). On the ninth day, that is, on Sree Ram Navami a spiritual discourse on Sree Ram's birth is held in the afternoon.