Ramayana is a celebrated epic of Hindu mythology composed by Sage Valmiki and contains 24,000 verses in seven kandas (Balakanda, Ayodhyakanda, Aranyakanda, Kishkindha Kanda, Sundara Kanda, Yuddha Kanda or Lanka kanda, Uttara Kanda). Ramanavami is celebrated on the ninth day in the bright half of Chaitra and represents the birth anniversary of Rama. The occasion is also used to perform SEETHA KALYAN or VIVAH at the Temple. Kalyan means auspicious wedding. It is believed that performance of Seetha Kalyan bestows peace and prosperity to all the devotees.

Ramayana - The Epic Story of Lord Rama

Rama / Ramachandra or Sitharama was the son of Dasaratha and Kausalya and the hero of Ramayana that took place during treta Yuga. He hailed from the Surya Vamsha (Solar dynasty), the forefather of the (Raghu Vamsha) Raghu dynasty of King Raghu. Hence, Rama is also known as Raghupati. When he was a boy, Rama, along with his younger brother Lakshmana, was taken by Viswamaitra or Kausika, with the permission of Dasaratha, to his hermitage to protect his yaga and yagna from the demons that obstructed and pestered them. Rama killed the demons easily for which sage Kausika rewarded them with several powerful and miraculous missiles. Rama and Lakshmana then accompanied Viswamitra to the city of Mithila, the capital of King Janaka, where he married his daughter Sita after performing the superhuman feat of bending Siva's bow (Shiva Dhanus). Lakshmana was married to the other daughter Urmila. Sri Rama and Lakshmana then returned to Ayodhya.

Rama's Exile

Dasaratha, realized that Rama was becoming qualified to rule the kingdom of Ayodhya, and resolved to install him as Yuvaraja (heir-apparent). But, on the eve of coronation, his favorite wife Kaikeyi, instigated by her wicked nurse Manthara, asked Dasaratha to fulfil the two boons he had granted her earlier. By one boon, she demanded the banishment of Rama for fourteen years into the jungle Dandakaranya, and, by the other, the installation of her own son Bharatha as Yuvaraja. Dasaratha was stunned by these demands and tried his best in an unsuccessful attempt to dissuade her from her wicked demands. But, he was obliged to yield at last. The dutiful son Rama immediately prepared to go into exile accompanied by his beautiful young wife Sita. His devoted brother Lakshmana insisted on accompanying him.

Conflict with Ravana

Ravana hymned Shiva for a thousand years so loudly that Shiva gave him the name Ravana, and freed him from his agony. Although invincible, his day of retribution drew near. Rama, the avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu descended on earth for his very destruction. The wicked demon, Ravana, resolved to punish Rama by kidnapping Sita, in order to avenge the insults Lakshmana had heaped on his sister. In this successful effort, he was assisted by his Uncle Maricha.

After extended wanderings and manifold fruitless inquiries on her whereabouts, Rama and Lakshmana met the monkey god Hanumat or Hanuman, in the city of Kishkindha, who informed that Sita was in Lanka. Sugreeva, the monkey king of Kishkindha persuaded Rama to invade the island of Lanka and destroy Ravana. The army of Vanaras (monkeys) built a bridge across the ocean to enable Rama to cross with his troops. Ramasetu is the bridge of Rama, a ridge of sand now called Adam's bridge, between the Indian peninsula and Sri Lanka- Rama conquered Lanka, killed Ravana along with his whole hoard of demons, and installed Vibheeshana as king of Lanka. The hindu festival of Vijayadasami or Dussehra celebrates Rama's victory over Ravana and his brothers. Ravana was a worthy opponent of Rama and, hence, the phrase Rama Ravana yoryuddham, Rama Ravana yoripu.

Rama, accompanied by Sita and his friends in battle, returned triumphantly to Ayodhya where he was installed as king by the sage Vasishtha- He reigned long and righteously. The great hindu festival of Diwali (or Deepavali) is celebrated to honor Rama's return to Ayodhya. His rule is known as Ram Rajya. He was succeeded by his son Kusa. Ram is said to be the seventh Avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu.

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