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).