New Delhi: Faithful thronged temples since daybreak as special prayers and dips in sacred rivers marked Ram Navmi, the birthday of Lord Rama, celebrated across the country Sunday with religious fervour and gaiety.
Amid blowing of conch shells and rendering of devotional songs, devotees offered prayers at illuminated temples as huge posse of policemen stood guard outside the shrines.
In holy city Haridwar in Uttarakhand, tens of thousands of people took dips in surging waters of river Ganges and paid obeisance at temples amid tight security.
The national capital saw devotees, carrying offerings to deities, flocking to decorated temples since dawn to offer prayers.
In Ayodhya, pilgrims took dips in holy Saryu river and thronged temples where special prayers were held at mid-day when Lord Rama was supposed to have born.
Door-frame metal detectors were set up at some places as authorities beefed up security in the city.
In Jammu, the city of temples, a large number of people offered prayers at the famous Raghunath temple.
In neighbouring Srinagar, prayers were held in temples across the Valley with devotees seeking blessings of Lord Rama and praying for return of peace in the troubled region.
Setting a shining example of communal harmony, Muslims came forward to help Hindu devotees who descended on the town from different parts of the country.
"We arranged drinking water and first aid at various places for devotees," said Haji Asad, a corporator from Ayodhya.
The President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister and a host of leaders greeted the people on the occasion of Ram Navmi.
In their messages, they hoped the festival would "inspire all of us to serve humanity with dedication and devotion".