Hindus all over celebrate Vivah Panchami, the marriage anniversary of Maryada Purushottam (Lord Rama) and Janaki Devi (Goddess Sita) on Shukla Panchami, onthe fifth day of the waxing phase of the Moon in the Hindu month of Margashirsha. This year it will be observed on November 27th 2014.
Avatars of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi, this observance since traditional times which symbolizes the ideal married couple, the union of one, who is the symbol of perfection in the observance of values and the other a symbol of purity is the high point of this festival . Despite adversity which led them to leave a royal life, Lord Rama and Goddess Sita spent fourteen years of exile just to keep up Ram’s father’s promise to the Lord’s own step-mother to grant any wish of hers. She always feared that her son would not ascend the throne until Lord Rama was not kept far from ascending it.
The travails in the fourteen years, the abduction of Goddess Sita, the fight and vanquishing of the evil demon king Ravana who had abducted her, the return of the couple and Goddess Sita’s stepping into the flames unscathed to show how pure she was, are the time and again heard and enjoyed narrative of the holy epic Ramayana, penned by the great sage Valmiki and also sung in the form of devotional songs by devotees throughout the day on this occasion. The worship at temples, offerings made, scenes from the epic enacted, are all part of the celebrations to mark this festival every year.
Symbolizing the perfect couple who stood true to each other amidst the most adverse circumstances, the marriage of Rama-Sita is enacted in true Hindu tradition on Vivah Panchami day, with a couple playing the parts of the heavenly couple, another pair playing the part of Sita’s parents, with the pujari conducting the marriage ceremony reciting the slokas meant for the occasion, the entire marriage ceremony is enacted with devotion. Other devotees become part of the proceedings with the singing of bhajans and kirtans and bless the couple as per tradition. This is the most popular form of celebration.
With live characters, psychological satisfaction is derived for having witnessed the union of a divine couple who have shown the world the sanctity of marriage, the steadfastness in the observance of vows despite the trials and tribulations of life, faith and devotion between the couple despite the adversities faced and the purity in thought and action that should be at all times in all situations.
Decked in the best of traditional wedding sarees and adorned with jewelry, the character playing Goddess Sita looks like the wedding day bride, in finery and splendour that suit the occasion. The clothes of the others involved are also traditional and in the finest of silks that mark the memorable event. The portrayal of all the characters befit the grand setting that it would indeed seem that the god and goddess had actually rewarded us with their presence and allowed us to be a part of the festivities.
Nothing is more relevant than the symbolism of this observance especially in today’s troubled times when stress and strife have rocked the foundations of the holy institution of marriage. In the continued celebration of such festivals, the relevance of marriage, the need for loyalty, faith and trust take on greater significance when the erosion of moral values is taking place at an alarming rate.
Come let us celebrate the wedding with fervent vigour and invoke their blessings, that there be harmony and happiness in our domestic lives too till the very end while we are on Earth.