Sita Navami is a vrat or ritual which is observed greatly by women all over India. It is the birth anniversary of Sita Mata, the consort of Lord Rama.
Lord Rama and Sita are the ideal couple. This day is also known as Janaki Jayanti in some parts of India. Sita Navami is observed on the navami tithi of the Shukla Paksha of the month of Vaisakha in the Pushya nakshatra according to traditional Hindu calendar, and according to Gregorian calendar, this occasion falls in the month of May. In 2017, it will fall on 4th May, Thursday.
It is a coincidence that Sita Jayanti is observed exactly a month after Ram Navami, which is Lord Rama’s birthday.
Legend of Sita
It is generally believed that Goddess Lakshmi took birth as Sita mata in the Treta Yug, in the house of King Janaka, in Mithila. There are interesting stories around the birth of Sita. The most popular story says that one day while King Janaka, to perform a yagna was ploughing a field, suddenly he came across a golden casket under layers of dirt and earth. In that golden casket he saw a beautiful baby girl. He took her as a divine gift and adopted her giving his name as Janaki and as she was found while ploughing the field, she was christened Sita. The plough is also worshipped on Sita Navami as she had come out of the earth while ploughing.
As per another legend, Sita is the rebirth of Vedavati, who was a beautiful woman, who renounced everything so that she could just worship Lord Vishnu. King Ravana sees her and enticed with her, tries to violate her. To save herself, Vedavati jumps into a fire and before death curses Ravana that in the next birth she will be the cause for his downfall.
Rituals of Sita Navami
Married women worship Sita with a lot of devotion and dedication. Lord Rama and Sita, despite facing numerous difficulties in their life, always were together through various upheavals. Sita was known for her absolute purity and sincerity of emotion.
Married women after having a ritual bath create a four pillar puja mandap and decorate it with beautiful flowers. Women observing this ritual also fast on this day. In that mandap they install the idols of Lord Sri Rama, Maa Sita, King Janaka and Mata Sunayana. Goddess Earth and plough are also kept in the mandap and worshipped. Barley, rice and til or sesame are offered to the Gods during the puja.
Maha Abhishek, Shringar Darshan and Arati are held in all the temples. A procession of Lord Rama, Mata Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman is also carried out with pomp. Bhajans and Kirtans are held along with chanting of the Ramayana.
There are lot of temples where Sita Navami is held with lot of fanfare, like Ayodhya in UP, Sita Samahit Sthal in Bihar, Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh and Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu.
Significance of Sita Navami
Sita is equated with fertility and purity and she is also worshipped so that women die while their husbands are still alive, or till they are married. Women seek blessings from Mata Sita for the long life of their husbands, and also worshipping Sita mata and Lord Rama together bring happiness and peace in marriage.