The birthday of Lord Rama is observed as Ramanavami on the ninth day of the light half of the month of Chaitra. Though there are very few temples dedicated to Rama in Orissa, this festival is widely celebrated by the performances of Ram Leela (the sport of Rama) based on the famous epic Ramayana. Beginning from this day the performances continue for over a month. Some observe fasting on the day and take food only after visiting the temple. Ramnavami occurs in the month of March. Celebrations begin with a prayer to the Sun early in the morning. At midday, when Lord Rama is supposed to have been born, a special prayer is performed.
In northern India especially, an event that draws popular participation is the Ramnavami procession. The main attraction in this procession is a gaily-decorated chariot in which four persons are dressed up as Rama, his brother Laxman, his queen Sita and his disciple Hanuman. Several other persons dressed up in ancient costumes as work by Rama's solders accompany the chariot. The procession is a gusty affair with the participants shouting praises echoing the happy days of Rama's reign.
On the face of it Sri-Ramnavmi appears to be just a festival commemorating the reign of a king who was later deified. But even behind present-day traditions there are clues, which unmistakably point to the origin of Ramnavmi as lying beyond the Ramayana story.