New Delhi: With prayers and rituals, Indians Tuesday celebrated the festival of Ram Navami, the birth anniversary of Lord Ram, a day that also marked an end to nine days of fasting for some.
Across temples and in many homes, devotees sang `bhajans`, or devotional songs. Thousands of devotees across north India had been observing Chaitra Navratri, the nine days when Durga, the goddess of power, is worshipped. And Tuesday was the final day of the period considered auspicious by Hindus.
"On each day of Navratri, we observe fasts and there are special prayer ceremonies at home and in temples where devotional songs are sung," said Saroj Sharma, a resident of the capital.
"We have a small idol of Rama in a cradle at home and on Ram Navami, we pray in front of it," she added.
Poonam Sethi, a homemaker, said, "Besides fasting, we also hold a ritual with small idols to symbolise the marriage Rama and Sita. We have special food on all the nine days, which is pure vegetarian and without the normal table salt."
On the morning of Ram Navami, the youngest girl in the family applies `tika` to the men and women of the household. Everyone participates in a ritual by first sprinkling water and putting `roli` (red powder) on the idols and showering handfuls of rice on the deities.
Then everybody stands up to perform the `aarti` at the end of which water, ideally Gangajal (Ganges water), which is considered holy, is sprinkled over the gathering.