Eight days after Yugadi or on the ninth day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra, falls the birthday of Sri Rama, one of the two most popular and highly revered incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Rama is said to have been born (manifested) at noon.
The Ramanavami vrata is nitya or compulsory for the devotees of Rama and optional for others. One of the highly eulogized vrata in the Hindu calendar, it can destroy one’s sins and also confer even mukti or liberation.
Actually the vrata commences from the previous night with fasting. On the Navami day also the votary has to continue fasting, perform worship and homa to Rama in an image installed in a specially prepared shrine, do japa (repeated recitations) of Ramamantra and keep vigil in the night. After the completion of the vrata he has to donate the image to the acharya (a learned Brahmin well versed in the rites) along with other gifts made liberally.
In the modern days gifting the image of Rama is extremely rare.
People assemble in very large numbers in Rama temples and enthusiastically participate in the Ramanavami festivities. Parayana or ceremonial recitation of the Ramayana (usually spread over the nine days from Yugadi), arranging religio-cultural programmes like Hari-katha (discourse on mythological stories accompanied with music) and classical music or devotional songs are quite common.
Celebrations at places associated with Sri Rama, like Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh and Ramesvaram in Tamil Nadu attract thousands of devotees.