Rama Navami is a Hindu festival that celebrates the birthday of Rama, the seventh avatar of the deity Vishnu. Rama is particularly important in the Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism. The festival celebrates the descent of Vishnu as the Rama avatar, through his birth to King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya in Ayodhya, Kosala. This festival is a part of the Chaitra Navaratri in the spring, and falls on the ninth day of the bright half (Shukla Paksha) of Chaitra, the first month in the Hindu calendar. This typically occurs in the months of March or April by the Gregorian calendar. Rama Navami is an optional holiday for government employees in India.
The day is marked by Rama Katha recitals or reading of Rama stories, including the Hindu epic Ramayana which narrates the tale of Rama. Some Vaishnava Hindus visit a temple while others pray within their homes, and some participate in a bhajan or kirtan with music as a part of puja and aarti. Some devotees mark the event by taking miniature statues of the infant Rama, washing and clothing them, then placing them in cradles. Charitable events and community meals are also organized. The festival is an occasion for moral reflection for many Hindus. Some mark this day by vrata (fasting).
Important celebrations on this day take place at Ayodhya and numerous Rama temples all over India. Rathayatras, the chariot processions, of Rama, Sita, his brother Lakshmana and Hanuman, are taken out at several places. In Ayodhya, many take a dip in the sacred river Sarayu and then visit the Rama temple.