In the previous episode we entered into the marriage ceremony that was taking place at Mithilapuri wherein, the preliminary events of the marriage had already commenced! The entire city and the palace of Janakpuri were on celebration mode! People were running here and there with all smiles and happiness! It was at this time, the day of “Panguni-Utthiram” arrived and the rituals commence. Yesterday we saw the reading of the “Pathrika” of the two families. We saw a glimpse of the great dynastic history of both King Dasharata and King Janaka. Today, let us continue and experience the auspicious and the much-awaited Sita-Rama wedding!
“Prabhaathe punaruddhaaya krithvaa karmaani sapthavith!
Puthrair naravarashreshto dhaadhaaram athi kaampkshate!!”
Now, Sage Vasishtaachaarya gets up from his seat and officially declares to King Janaka and co. “Oh King Janaka! My king Dasharata from Ayodhya requests you officially to give your daughters in marriage with his sons!” Upon hearing this, King Janaka replies back, “Oh great sage! This Mithilapuri is your home too! My daughters are your daughters too! You can very well take them along with your sons and they can live happily together!”
Now, the marriage ceremony commences at Mithilapuri. All the celestial beings including Indra, Agni, Varuna, etc. were also present among the gathering. We are at the stage of “Paanigrahanam”, which is the most important phase of the marriage ceremony, even today. Of course, we do the “Thirumangalya-Dhaaranam” wherein the groom ties the “Thirumaangalyam” around the bride’s neck. But, according to the Vedas, the “Paanigrahanam” and the “Sapthapathi” is given more weightage for a marriage! Now let us witness the all-important “Paanigrahanam”. King Janaka performs this important ritual. He takes Sita’s hands and places them over the hands of Rama and says,
“Iyam sitaa mama suthaa saha dharma chareethava!
Pratheecha yenaam bhadramthe paani grinheesva paaninaa!!”
This is a very important sloka in the Valmiki Ramayana that signifies the entire Sita-Rama wedding! Here, king Janaka says:, “Here is Sita! (“Iyam Sita”), who is my daughter (“Mama suthaa”) who will follow the path of “Dharma” along with you (“Saha dharma chareethava”)! Please have a look at this beautiful girl (“Pratheecha yenaam”)! May you be having all the comforts of life together (“Bhadramthe”)! Thus, Oh Rama, please hold her hand with yours (“Paani grinheesva paaninaa”)!
King Janaka continues…
“Pathivrathaa mahaa bhaagaa chaaye vaanugadaasathaa!
Ithyukthvaa praakshipathe raajaa manthrapoorva jalam tathaa!!”
Now, while King Janaka performs the “Kannya Dhaan” he says, “Pathivrathaa mahaa bhaagaa”, which means, “Oh Rama! My daughter is extremely blessed to be your wife! She would be an epitome of chastity! (Pathivratha dharma – We are going to talk about it in detail later on!)” As these important rituals are taking place, the people around were enthralled and felt so blissful amidst the auspicious event! They were taken beyond words to explain their happiness! There is a lot of hues and cries of joy all around the place! Valmiki Maharishi has captured each and everything of this, perfectly in his composition!
At this point, I remember Saint Thiyagaraja’s famous composition on the Sita-Rama wedding! As a Carnatic musician, I would be failing in my duty if I do not invoke the great Saint Thiyagaraja! He sings,
“Sita Kalyaana Vaibohame! Rama Kalyaana Vaibohame!
Pavanaja stuthi paathra paavana charithra! Ravi soma vadanethra ramaneeya gaathra!!
Paramesha nutha geetha bhava jalathi botha! Dharani kula samjaatha thiyagaraaja nutha!!”
Thus, having heard from King Janaka, Rama holds Sita’s hands for the first time! Thus, all the rituals take place one by one, such as “Paanigrahanam”, “Thirumangalya dhaaranam”, “Saptapathi”, Laaja homam”, etc. We would be discussing each of it in subsequent episodes. Saint Thiyagaraja has captured each of these events in various “keerthanams” (Compositions) of his. We shall witness them also in our subsequent episodes!
Thus, here starts a new phase of the Ramayana story, with Goddess Sita Devi and Lord Rama joining hands together to set an example to all of us in this world as to how to live happily together as a couple! We need to focus on this particular sloka of “Iyam sita mama sutha…” much deeper and reflect more on this! We would get to discover a very important message for all of us with respect to the concept of a marriage! Let’s wait till the next episode to start our discoveries and explorations! 🙂