New Delhi, April 19 (IANS) The capital Friday celebrated Ram Navami, the birth of Lord Rama, which comes at the end of the nine-day Navaratri fast and prayers. The Hindu god is believed to have been born at noon, when festivity peaks.
Temples around the city were decked up with flowers and special prasad of chana (chickpea) and halwa (sweet) was prepared for the devotees.
"Prayers will take place at around noon when Ramji was born. We have decorated the temple with marigold flowers and the prasad is being prepared," Ravindra Nagar, head priest of Birla Mandir, told IANS.
On each day of Navaratri, fasts are observed and prayer ceremonies organised in homes and in the temples, where devotional songs are sung. Special food, which is pure vegetarian and without the normal table salt, onion or garlic, is eaten on all nine days.
Some people put a small idol of Rama in a cradle, symbolising the significance of the day and offer prayers to it. Community meals are also organised.
"We have organised special prayers at noon followed by a langar (community meal)," said Pooja Bhatia, a homemaker residing in north Delhi's Model Town area.
Anmol Kumar, a west Delhi resident who had a small idol of baby Rama in a cradle, said that in addition to fasting and praying, the rituals also sometimes involve a celebration of the marriage of Rama and Sita, represented in small idols, during the day.
In many parts of the city, large processions with Rama's idol are also taken out on Ram Navami, which is celebrated on the ninth day of the Shukla Paksha (moonlit fortnight) of Chaitra, the first month of the Hindu calendar.
The largest celebrations are traditionally held in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, which is believed to be the birth place of Lord Rama.
In Old quarters of Delhi, processions are very colourful and lively as people dressed as Lord Rama, Sita and Laxman pass through the main roads amidst showers of rose petals and sprinkling of rose water.