USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Ram and Sita’
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Ram – India

There was a king, and he had 3 wives.  And he had promised one of the wives, the third wife, 2 promises.  And she wanted her son to become the next king.  But the next king in line was the son of the first wife and his name was Ram.  So the third wife, who had the 2 promises promised her came to the king and said, “I want my 2 promises.” And he says, “ okay what do you want?” and she says “I want you to send Ram, your oldest son, into the forest for 14 years.  And I want you to make my son the king.”  So the king did, and Ram agreed because he wanted to honor his father and stepmother, so he went.  He was married to a lady named Sita, and she went with him, along with his brother named Lakshmana, whose whole purpose was to be with and protect his brother.  So the 3 of them went to the forest to live for 14 years.  While they were in the forest, they made their own home, and I guess there was a lot of evil in the forest, and there were a lot of priests out there that were being hurt by the evil, so  Ram did everything he could to protect the priest and the holy people and protect them from the evil.  And there is a bad guy named Ravana, and when he heard that Ram was helping protect all the priests from the evil, he went into the forest and kidnapped Sita, Ram’s wife.  When Ram and Lakshmana came back from working out in the forest, they found that Sita, who usually stayed in the house, was gone.  They went out looking for Sita, but they could not find her, but instead found Hanuman, king of the apes, who was half human half monkey.  So Hanuman really loved Ram and what he was doing to protect the holy people, so he agreed to help Ram and Lakshmana.  Hanuman went and got an army of apes and went and found Raven.  Ravana had taken Sita to Sri Lanka, and Ram, Lakshmana, Hanuman, and the army of apes went into Sri Lanka and there was a huge battle.  They defeated Ravana, and at this point it was the end of the 14 years, so Ram took Sita and Lakshmana back to their village, and they all celebrated with lights.  And that’s why they celebrate Diwali in India every year, or the festival of lights.  It’s a huge deal in India, and that’s why the tradition was started: to celebrate Ram rescuing his wife and returning home.

This was one of the first stories my father ever told me, and I have always loved celebrating Diwali, so knowing the story behind it made the holiday that much more meaningful for me.  I’m not sure if this story can be found in the Gita, the Hindu holy book, but I think it might be in there.  But I’m not sure because I always heard the story from my father.

I know very little about the Hindu culture, so hearing this story made me feel a tad more knowledgeable.  I researched Diwali after hearing this story, and seeing the pictures of the candles and lights everywhere really makes me want to visit India during Diwali .. It’s a beautiful holiday.  I tried finding the story in the Gita, but I was not successful.  Dr. Supna said it was considered a religious story, since Ram was considered a reincarnation of Vishnu, but she wasn’t sure if it was actually party of the holy books.  But it is a very popular story in Inida, as Ram and Sita are a very well known pair, and their love is known to be unbelievably strong.  Being the helpless romantic I am, having characters be known for their devotion and love for each other makes me enjoy the story that much more.  How Sita insisted on living in the forest with Ram for 14 years instead of in the comfort of the castle, and the trials Ram went through to get his wife back.  That is definitely holiday worthy.

Myths
Narrative
Rituals, festivals, holidays

How Ram Married Sita – India

So Sita’s dad wanted to marry Sita off, so he found this huge bow, like a bow and arrow, that was so heavy it was almost impossible to lift.  So whatever man could lift that bow and shoot an arrow, I don’t know if he made it a game or something but basically he told the men that whoever could lift the bow and shoot it could marry his daughter.  So all of these people came, and no one could do it.  So Ram’s trainer, because he was trained in martial arts, went to Ram and told him they were going to work on it so Ram would be able to go and shoot the bow.  So he and Ram trained for the event, and when they got there, Ram was the first man to come who was able to lift the bow, so Sita’s father allowed him to marry his daughter. That is why we celebrate the festival Vivaha Panchami, to celebrate the marriage of Sita and Ram.

I didn’t even know this story until recently.  I called my father to brush up on the other story of Ram and Sita, and he told me this story over the phone.  Apparently there are a lot of side stories that come from the story of Ram’s 14 years in the forest, such as this one.  But since I was born in America, I never really celebrated Vivaha Panchami, but I knew it existed.  I just didn’t know the story behind it.

I find it interesting that the culture of India has been sustained since this ancient story.  The marriage of Ram and Sita was, essentially, an arranged marriage, a practice that is still very common in India today.  Yet this story, despite the fact the marriage was arranged, was the start of a very deep and real love between Ram and Sita.  It may be making a statement of the success of these kind of marriages, as they generally have less problems than non-arranged marriages.  Regardless, it reminds me a lot of the story of how Penelope (from the Odyssey), after being pressured by the suitors to choose a husband, told them that whoever could string and shoot Odysseus’s bow could have her hand.  This shows that there can be common themes in folklore despite the geographic and cultural differences (in this case, India vs. Greece).

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