Background

Vivah PanchamiLord Janak, his daughter Sita, and their ancient Kingdom of Mithila, were all right here, within these borders, in the Tarai district of Dhanusa (Sanskrit for “bow”). The scene described above, happened in the uniquely constructed, mesmerizing temple, known as the Ram-Janaki Mandir. It happened during Sita’s Swayamvar, a ceremony where the woman chooses her own husband. Each year since, in the month of November (-ish), the Hindu world comes together with love and fervor, for the festival of Vivaha Panchami, the celebration of this beloved couple’s wedding day. For the people of India, Ram-Sita are not just a happy couple, they are the incarnations of the virtuous Lord Vishnu (Lord of the Gods) and his serene wife, Laxmi (the Goddess of Wealth).

Lord Janak himself is held in Hinduism as not just a king of lands, but as a divine guru, a master of Hinduism’s practices. Even deities like Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu take council with him on different matters making Janakpur a place that all Hindu deities visit, to pay their respects.

Story Behind the celebration

Ram and Janaki chariots Bibaha Panchami Janakpur

Devotees take out a procession with the chariots of Ram and Janaki in Janakpurdham of Dhanusha district, on the occasion of Bibaha Panchami festival. Photo: Brij Kumar Yadav

Lord Rama held the mighty and lengthy golden bow in his hand, he knew it was something special, he stood tall in the palace of famed Lord Janak, ruler of Mithila. He knew the story of how no man had been able to pull back the bows tight string, let alone fire even a single arrow. He knew that marrying the enchanted Sita, Janak’s daughter, all depended on making this shot. Rama had met numerous “strong men”, who had failed the test—he was nervous, under his confident persona. What was in his hand was no simple bow, it was the Shiva Dhanush, weapon of the mighty Lord Shiva, the God of Destruction, entrusted into the care of the revered Janak. It was to be a way for Janak to know the correct man, the one who should marry his beloved, beautiful and virtuous daughter. As Rama held the bow in his hand, he breathed a moment, then swiftly, he lifted the weapon, grander than himself, but yet all within the flash of a second. With calm meditation, he had strung the bow, and, focused his mind. With one clean swoop he pulled back the string, the audience was frozen by the feat, under all his might and power, the bow doubled, and the arrow fired like a thunderbolt. As it exited the bow’s arch, the weapon snapped into two, under Rama’s unseen strength. In that moment, all those present, knew that the virtuous Rama was indeed bestowed with great powers, and was the one destined to marry Sita. The families of Janak and Dasaratha (Rama’s father, ruler of Ayodhya), would now be joined in union. Two great empires were about to come together.

About Janaki Mandir

madir

Janaki Mandir is situated in the heart of Janakpur in Nepal. This temple is named Janaki after the name of Sita. Sita is also called Janaki, daughter of Janak. This temple is an eastern architecture. Janaki Mandir was built by Queen Brisabhanu Kunwari of Tikamgarh in AD 1911. It is said they spent 900,000 Rupees to finish this temple. That is the resaon this temple is also called Nau Lakha Mandir (nine Lakh Rupees temple). It is said In 1898AD (1955 Bikaram Sambat), a golden statue of Sita was found at the spot where Sita is said to have lived. It is also said that the temple was built on the holy site where Sannyasi Shurkishordas had found the images of Goddess Sita. It is also said that King Janak performed the worship of ‘Shiva-Dhanus’ on the location where the Janaki Temple is situated.

How is this celebrated

Bibaha Panchami Festival in Nepal

Devotee women cup their down-turned hands over the flame and then raise their palms to their foreheads as part of ritual during the celebration of Vivaha Panchami festival at the Janaki Temple in Janakpur. Photo: Skanda Gautam

Janaki Temple is decorated as the wedding palace. The idol of Sita and Ram are decorated as bride and groom. Hindu marriage ceremony is performed as Sita and Ram are getting married. Entire city heaves with crowds coming from every direction of the Hindu world, clamoring to pour out their love and respect. The temple of Ram-Janaki (the main one in the city), see the most traffic; it is the spot where Rama pulled the bow’s un-moving string. Next to that is the temple where Ram-Sita were married, the queue gets long here, and for a devotional dip there is the Ganga Sagar (pond). In the olden days, these ponds were laced with gold, to help better transmit one’s devotion to the other side. On the day, dahi (curd) and chiura (beaten rice) are the prasad, or devotional gift to eat. Both are devoured in vast amounts, laced with sugar. Meeti, the tantalizing milk sweet of India is offered at every corner, and next to those are stalls selling every form of religious picture and trinket. The essence of ripe oranges fills the air throughout.

In the town, some people and communities organize barat (janti – procession) , a male acts as Ramchandra and another as Sita and people walked as the associates of Ram and Sita in the janti (baaraat).

 

 

The epic love story and marriage of Ram Sita is re-lived every year in the very place the story unfolded.