[HPI note: Hindus have celebrated Rama Navami all over the world in honor of the birthday of Lord Rama, a traditional festival that this year fell on April 13. Below is a report from Alabama. You can read more about this festival at our Hindu Festivals for the media page here ]
HARVEST, ALABAMA, April 15, 2011 (The Huntsville Times): The scent of a sandlewood fire drifted past icons of holy beasts on the porch of the Hindu Cultural Center of North Alabama Tuesday. A circle of worshipers sat around an open brazier, listening and chanting in Hindi and Sanskrit as a priest led the intricate fire offering in celebration of the birthday of Lord Rama, one of the Hindu Deities. The scene could have happened in the same way 3,000 years ago – except for the iPad2 leaning against one woman’s purse.
The joyful celebration of Rama Taraka Homam came at the end of nine days of Rama Navami, during which volunteers and priests took turns reading, up to six hours a day, through the 1,000-page Ramayana. The epic Sanskrit poem contains the scriptural story of Lord Rama’s life, including the exciting bits when his wife, Sri Sita, was kidnapped by an evil king and then rescued by an army of monkeys led by Hanuman. Rama, his brother Laxman and wife Sita are considered examples of living life according to duty.
The period of holy celebrations continues Sunday, 10 a.m., at the temple just off Old Railroad Bed Road in Harvest, with the Sita Rama Kalyanam, the re-enactment of the wedding of Rama and Sita.