Celebrated on ninth and the last day of Vasant Navratri- one of the significant Hindu festivals that is observed for nine nights and which is devoted to Goddess Shakti- Ram Navami is celebrated as the day that marks birth of Lord Rama.
Ram Navami has a great significance in Hindu culture and tradition, particularly in Vaishnava traditions of Hinduism. Hinduism is segregated into major sects like- Vaishnavism-followers of Lord Vishnu, Shaivism- one who reveres to Shiva as the supreme authority, Shaktism-follower of mother Shakti and Smartism. Lord Rama is considered to be the seventh incarnation of the ten Vishnu incarnations and hence has a great bearing in Vaishnavism. However, Lord Rama himself being such a devote follower of Shiva (Rama established Shiva Linga in Rameshwaram) and Shiva too singing glories of Rama (Padma Purana), he has many devote followers in Shaivism too.
Ram Navami is observed as the birth day of Lord Rama. The story of his birth is equally fascinating as his life. King of Ayodhya (city in state of Uttar Pradesh), Dasharatha had 3 wives- Kaushalya (from Magadha), Kaikeyi (from Kekeya Kingdom) and Sumitra (from Kashi). The unfortunate King had no sons who could inherit his throne after him and take care of his kingdom. When none of his queens could bore him any son, he, on the advice of Sage Vasishta decide to perform Puthra Kameshti Yagna. At the end of the ritual, Agni handed over a pot of Kheer (Payasam) and advised him to distribute it among his queens. King offered half of the Kheer to Kaushalya and other half to Kaikeyi. Both queens offered their half portions to Sumitra and thus due to this unequal distribution of Kheer, Rama was born to Kaushalya, Kaikeyi gave birth to Bharata and Sumitra gave birth to Lakshmana and Shatrugana.
The word Rama has a great spiritual significance in Hinduism. In Sanskrit ‘Ra’ refers to light or fire (Sun is referred as ‘Ra’)- possibly this also could be due to Rama being a Suryavanshi- ‘man of Sun’.
The sound “Ma” refers to mind(atma/self) and the combination ‘RaMa’ could mean a man who is in search of enlightenment-journey of atma towards paramatma (read more )
Ramayana which was authored by Sage Valmiki, who was a contemporary of Lord Rama, depicts Ram’s journey- journey of an ideal man with excellent virtues. The tale of Ramayana shows us the way of life.
A beautiful one liner that I came across stating the differences between Mahabharata and Ramayana is while Mahabharata tells us what not to do, Ramayana tells us what to do in life. Rama teaches us how one can be an ideal son, an ideal brother, an ideal husband, an ideal friend and an ideal king. How one can attain true joy, happiness and peace in life by treading on path of righteousness. One can attain salvation (Moksha)- the ultimate goal of a human life, by walking on the path of righteousness. Each of us could be Rama, only if we can shed our ego, pride, arrogance, jealousy, hatred and fill our hearts with love, be duty-bound, keep welfare of others before us.
A beautiful song from Bollywood movie Swadesh has a scene in which characters enact Ramlila. The song depicts the encounter between Sitaji and Raavan. Mother Sita is trying to convince Raavan to give up his misdeeds and how he too can become Ram at heart. The song has stayed with me since I heard it for the first time. Here are the lyrics-
raam hii to karunaa me hai, shaanti me raam hai
raam hii hai ekataa me, pragatii me raam hai
raam bas bhakto nahii, shatru kii bhii chintan me hai
dekh taj ke paap raavan, raam tere man me hai
raam tere man me hai, raam mere man me hai.
With that, let’s check out some recipes that you could make for your celebrations of Ram Navami.
One of the perpetual queries that we receive in the comment section of various forums is how one could make Gulab Jamun minus Khoa. This recipe should please all those readers and viewers who find procuring Khoa a difficult exercise to undertake. For this recipe Khoa is replaced with Aloo or Potatoes.
Traditionally in Uttar Pradesh, this recipe is often made during festivals of Dussehra and Ram Navami or as an offering to village goddess. Bakheer is made by combining (Gud) Jaggery with rice and milk
One of the most popular Indian desserts, made with just few basic ingredients. Chawal Ki Kheer is one of the first desserts that may come to your mind on any festive occasion.
One of the most popular Indian Mithai’s that has fascinated the foodies from Indian sub-continent. Deep fried Khoya balls dipped in rose-scented sugar syrup is sure to leave your family spell bound.
While Gulab Jamun has a soft and melt-in-the-mouth texture, Kala Jamun has a firm exterior and is deep fried until it attains a deep black color which differs from golden brown color of Gulab Jamun. Besides, its texture and the color, these two variety differ in its Shape-Kala Jamun has a round shape and is bigger in size than Gulab Jamun (similar in size to a Golf ball).
This Kheer is a perfect synergy created out of basic ingredients that results into a spectacular dessert. Perfectly cooked grains of long wheat, sweetness of Jaggery (I must admit my bias towards desserts based of Jaggery than sugar), just enough punch of dry ginger and small surprises in form of some chopped coconut and finally flavored with a spoonful of melted clarified butter (ghee).
Like its Maharashtrian sister, Kosambari is made up with veggies like carrot, cucumber. However, the twist here Kannadigas add the Soaked moong dal/chana dal to add crunchiness to it with freshly grated coconut, lemon juice, salt, sugar, green chilies, chopped coriander leaves and finally seasoned with fresh tadka of mustard seeds, asafoetida and urad dal. Kosambari is also prepared on auspicious occasions like marriages and it can also be served as Prasad in temples
Here’s one rich delicacy from Karnataka Cuisine-Belgavi Kunda that is rich in taste, subtle in sweetness and has an eye-pleasing golden color.
A classic sweet dish from God’s own Country-Kerala- Cherupayar Parippu Payasam- Moong Dal Payasam, with the sweetness of Jaggery and subtlety of Coconut Milk.
Sheera is a Popular dessert or an Indian Mithai that has a significant part in a Maharashtrian cuisine. It also has an important role in Cuisines of neighboring states like Karnataka, Gujarat and several other Indian states where it is known by different names. Sheera though a dessert is also eaten in breakfast and snacks by those who like to begin their day by satisfying their sweet tooth.
Fasting recipes for Ram Navami
“Batatyachi Kaape”, potato roundels coated in a dry batter of seasoned rice flour with some basic spices and shallow fried till crisp. We have tweaked this recipe with minor changes to suit for fasting days.
Kachhe Kele aur Paneer Ke Kofte- steamed raw plantains and cottage cheese, seasoned with some basic Indian spices, and rolled into dumplings. These dumplings or Koftas are deep fried or could be grilled in an Oven.These koftas or tikkis taste delicious with dahi peanut dip or simple Imli- gud ki chutney.
Sundal is one of those recipes originating from Southern India that is primarily prepared during festivities of Navratri. It is prepared as a part of ‘prasadam’.
Lauki Ka Halwa is a popular delicacy. It’s good to have this recipe in your repertoire, if you are limited with the ideas of including bottle gourd in your weekly menu. You will be amazed how this otherwise bland veggie can be so delicious when served in form of a Halwa.
Rajgira (or Ramdana) also known as Amaranth Seeds is a popular food choice for Hindus during days of fasting. Falling under non-cereal food category is one of the primary reasons why Rajgira is such highly favored during fasts. Another reason that stands in Rajgira’s favor is it being high in nutrition.
For many Maharashtrian family, Sabudana or Sago Khichdi are synonymous to fasting to such a degree that if you are spotted eating this Khichdi, a question like “Are you fasting?” could be thrown at you.
Sabudana Vada is a well-known Maharashtrian fried snack food and is hugely popular dish that is also easily available in eateries serving traditional Maharashtrian food. With its close cousin Sabudana Khichdi, it’s a much preferred dish during fasting days for a Maharashtrian. While Sabudana Khichdi still remains a much preferred option, these delicious Vadas served with sweetened Curd is not far behind.
Singhade Ke Aate Ka Halwa- It not only helps you replenish your depleted energy levels but also tastes so good that you would not mind preparing it as an alternative to your regular Halwas (Sheera)
Preparing Sookhe Kale Chane without onion & garlic and with basic humble spices like red chilli powder, turmeric powder, cumin seeds, coriander powder and finished with dry mango powder just tastes heavenly on such auspicious day
Paneer Kachori is a delicious snacking option and has been designed to suit your fasting days when the choice of ingredients that can be eaten is fairly constricted and Paneer Kachori comes as a tastier and filing food choice.