In Andhra Pradesh, the Sree Seetha Ramachandra Swamy temple at Bhadrachalam is the centre of some glorious celebrations. This is a temple constructed by Kancharla Gopanna who was popularly known as Bhakta Ramadas, who was a also a great composer.
Rama Navami is celebrated on the final day of Chaitra Navaratri. The birthday of Lord Rama, Rama Navami is celebrated with great fervour in India. In Andhra Pradesh, the Seetha Ramaswamy Temple at Bhadrachalam is the epicentre of all celebrations.
I always look forward to having Panakam on Sree RamaNavami. This sweet and spicy drink, along with Chalimidi and Vada Pappu, is the traditional naivedyam on Sree Rama Navami in Andhra Pradesh.
Sree Rama Navami is the birthday of Lord Rama and the culmination of Vasanta Navaratri Utsavam that begins with Ugadi. The 9 days leading up to Rama Navami are filled with visits to temples, kutcheris, and various religious activities.
Sree Rama Navami is very close to my heart because the earliest music I remember hearing is Dr. Magalampalli Balamurali Krishna‘s Bhadrachala Ramadasu Kirtanalu. I was fascinated by the depth of emotion these simple kritis conveyed and they were among the first songs I ever learnt to sing. Amma followed this up by telling me the story of Bhakta Ramadasu and taking me to the Golconda Fort to see where Bhakta Ramadasu was imprisoned.
The first dance-drama I ever participated in was based on the Ramadasu kriti Ikshvaku-kula Tilakaand I was Lord Rama in that. In the immediate next item, I was one of many dancing to the song Sayonara! Sayonara! from Love in Tokyo. I made a seemingly effortless transition from Lord Rama to a Japanese Belle!
Panakam is very easy to make and has great cooling effect on the body. As a result, you will find Panakam being served at various occasions throughout the summer as a refreshing cooling drink.
How to Make Panakam
Water – 3 Cups
Grated Jaggery – 1/2 Cup
Black Pepper Powder – 1/2 tsp
Sonti/Chukku/Dry Ginger Powder – 1/2 tsp
Cardamom Powder – 1/4 tsp
Dissolve jaggery in water.
Strain the liquid.
Add pepper, cardamom, and dry ginger powder to the jaggery water.