Ramayana is one the greatest Hindu epics and also one of the oldest poems in the world. It is an ancient Sanskrit epic which follows Lord Rama’s quest to rescue his beloved wife Sita from the clutches of Ravana, with the help of an army of monkeys. Like, all the great Hindu epics, Ramayana too has molded the lifestyles and cultures of all the Hindus. Among thousands, one such custom which has been an auspicious part of our festivals is the Vivah Panchami which honors the marriage of Lord Rama and Goddess Sita. ‘Vivah’ means marriage and ‘Panchami’ means fifth-day Vivah Panchami is celebrated on the fifth day of the Shukla Paksha during the month of ‘Margashirsha.’
Legend says, Sage Vishwamitra approached the emperor of Ayodhya, King Dasharath asked for protection of the Yajna from the rakshasa. With great reluctance, Dasharath sent his children Rama and Lakshmana along with Vishwamitra as per the advice of his Guru Vasishta. The Yajna was successfully completed under the protection offered by Rama due to which the sage was highly pleased. Ensuing, the sage took the prince of Ayodhya to Mithila. At the same time, King Janaka, the ruler of Mithila was conducting a contest to choose the right match for his daughter Sita.
Devi Sita was the daughter of King Janak was born in the ancient city of Janakpur which currently lies in Nepal. Mentioned in Ramayana, Lord Rama is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu was the eldest son of King Dashrath of Ayodhya. On the Panchami of ‘Margashira,’ Lord Rama visited the Kingdom of King Janak, Mithla. In his kingdom, King Janak organized a ‘Swayamvar’ ceremony where he invited powerful kings and princes of various kingdoms, where his daughter Sita was supposed to choose a groom for herself among them.
However, the condition for marrying Sita was to lift the Dhanush of Lord Shiva named Pinaka and string it to prove their prowess. In doing so, everybody failed to even lift it up as the bow was so huge and heavy. Then, upon the instructions from Viswamitra, Rama strung the bow successfully and the broke it into two pieces during the process. Everyone was stunned with awe and King Janak was highly pleased and overwhelmed. As a result, King Janaka married his daughter Janaki (Sita) to Lord Rama. During the grand marriage ceremony, the brothers of Rama namely Bharata, Lakshmana, and Shatrughan were also married to Mandavi, Urmila, and Shuddhakirti respectively.
This day, Vivah Panchami is considered a very auspicious day as it marks the ceremonial marriage anniversary of Rama and Sita. Hence, the celebrations begin several days in advance in many places of Nepal and India. The celebrations of Vivah Panchami are specifically notable in Lord Rama temples, particularly in Mithilanchal region, Nepal, Ayodhya and other areas of North India. The day holds immense significance at Janakpur, in Nepal as it is believed that the first ceremony was held there. Along with Janakpur, the festival is also celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervor in Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Ram.
The entire event is also known as ‘Ram Vivah Utsav’ when the temples are lit brightly with lamps and the celebrations involve the enactment of the wedding ceremony. A grand procession leaves from one temple to another and ends with the wedding ceremony in the evening. The idols of Lord Ram and Goddess Sita are adorned with beautiful clothes and jewelry to make them look like bridegroom and bride. All through the day, devotional songs in praise of Lord Ram and Devi Sita are sung by devotees. Several stage shows, dramas, and cultural programs are also organized on this occasion. Ramleela, a stage performance that depicts the life of Lord Ram and Devi Sita is also observed. On this day, devotees take a holy bath in lakes of Mithilanchal (‘Dhanushsagar,’ ‘Gangasagar’ and ‘Argaza Pond’), as a part of the rituals.
In Janakpurdham, Nepal, thousands of pilgrims arrive many from India and other parts of Nepal. Special rituals and pujas are held in temples where the celebrations are observed with great fanfare. The celebrations continue for seven days, and devotees observe all the rituals with immense zeal and dedication. Thousands of devotees visit the temples to seek the divine blessings of a happy family and married life. This festival is one the best occasion to visit Janakpur to observe the culture and traditional values of the place.
Vivah Panchami is also considered to be highly auspicious, significant and sacred also for marriage on this day. Therefore, many couples choose to marry on this day. It is said that even witnessing such rituals can fill the married life of the individuals with happiness and harmony.