The appearance of Lord Rama, the seventh Avatar (Incarnation) of Lord Vishnu, is observed as the festival of Rama Navami. The festival falls on the 9th day of the bright fortnight of the month of Chaitra (March-April), which is the spring season in the Indian sub-continent. It is one of the most important festivals of the Vaishnava sect of the Sanatan Hindus.
Rama is the hero of the legend of the Ramayana written by the sage Valmiki in the 4th century B.C. According to the legend, Lord Rama, the eldest son of King Dasharatha, was the prince of Ikshvaku race of Ayodhya. He was married to Sita, the daughter of Raja Janak of Mithila. Dasharatha declared Rama to be his heir-apparent as he was the eldest and ablest of all his sons. But Rama was exiled from the country and went to the forest for a period of 14 years for one of His step mothers named Kaikeyi. Kaikeyi wanted to see her son Bharata ascend the throne in place of Rama. When Rama went to the forest, his wife, Sita Devi and younger brother, Lakshmana followed Him. Then He won a war against the evil Ravana, the King of Lanka who had kidnapped His wife Sita Devi. He was aided by a band of monkeys, the most loyal of whom is worshipped today as Lord Hanuman. The period of banishment having been over, Rama came back to Ayodhya and ascended the throne. In fact, Lord Rama, the senventh Avatar (Incarnation) of Lord Vishnu, appeared at His own will to destroy the evil and protect the weak.
As Rama was the incarnation of Lord Vishnu Himself, He was peerless on earth. He was the embodiment of all good qualities. He was well accomplished, beautiful and endowed with royal marks. He was absolutely free from malice. Though fierce like fire on the battlefield, He was calm like the cool breeze. He was very patient, bounteous and righteous. In the sorrows of the sufferers, He sympathized with them. He greatly endeared Himself to the hearts of his subjects. Through His noble character, the devotees can learn how the different family and social relationships should be. He was ideal to show the duties towards parents, step mothers and brothers, sister, spouse, servants and maids and all the subjects of the country. So, the celebration of the appearance day of Rama is very important to all Sanatan devotees.
The festival of Rama Navami is celebrated with great pomp and glory in many places of the Indian sub-continent along with some temples around the world. Though the festival is mainly observed by the Vaishnavas, many other sects of Sanatan Hindus also celebrate the day. On this auspicious day, the devotees perform different rituals. These include day long fasting, decoration of the temples and idols, performances of pujas, chanting of the name of Lord Rama and discussions on the Ramayana. In some places, it is celebrated as a nine-day festival that coincides with Vasanta Navaratri dedicated to the supreme female force (Divine Mother) in Hinduism known as Durga, Shakti, Kali etc.