One of the famous Hindu festivals of Nepal and the pride of Janakpur, Vivah Panchami iscelebrated as the marriage anniversary of the noble couple (Adarsha Jodi)Ram and Sita. On this auspicious occasion, the Janaki temple is decorated as a real marriage mandap (a Hindu wedding palace) and a real big fair isheld at Janaki temple premises. People of Janakpurdham and nearby placeshave been continuing this tradition since TretaYug.
There are many other festivals celebrated at the Janaki temple. In each month, on the full moon day,a monthly fair in held, on Chaitra Shukla Naumi, “Ram Jyanti’ is celebrated, after one month, on BaishakhShuklaNaumi “JanakiPraketyaMahotsab”JankaiNaumi is celebrated. Similarly, from ShrawanSuklaTritya to Purnima, Janaki ‘Chola’ Mahotsab is celebrated. But ‘Vivah Panchami’ is one of the grand celebrations performed in Janaki Temple, Janakpurdham.
‘Janaki Temple’ which is one of the temples of Nepal listed in the world heritage site, has collected a massive history from the past. The Janaki mandir was built by Queen Brisabhanu Kunwar of Tikamgadh in 1955 B.S. (1898 A.D.) called “Naulakkha Mandir”. It is believed that the Janaki temple was built on the holy site where golden statue of Sita was found and where King Janak used to worship ‘Shiv-Dhanush’.
Similarly, according to the Hindu epic ‘Ramayana’, the history of Bibah Panchami is very significant. As per the legends, there are various stories about Bibah Panchami and Goddess Sita. As Sita was the daughter of Earth, one of the story sates that when king Janak wanted to perform a ‘Yagya’, he got Sita.
As a custom, he himself needed to level the ground with a golden plough for making an altar. While leveling the ground, he found a child inside the ground, whom he adopted and named her “Sita” where ‘Sitay’ means the tip of a plough. She is also called Janaki, Siya, Maithli, Vardehi, Bhumija, etc. The King Janak was surprised to see that Sita used to lift the Shiv Dhanush by her left hand to which he even could not move. That’s why he had promised to do Sita’s swayambaronly with a brave man who could lift the Shiva Dhanush.
As he sent the invitation, many warriors, kings and prince from different kingdoms participated in swyambar (public choice of a bridegroom by the bride from among her assembled suitors)who were expected to lift a massive bow ‘Shiva Dhanush’. But it was such a heavy and enormous bow that every participant failed even to move it from its position.
However, Ram and Lakshman were also present in this programme, after getting instruction from GuruViswamitra, prince Ram lifted that enormous bow effortlessly and when he tried to string it, the bow shattered into pieces. Subsequently, a formal wedding ceremony was organized to solemnize the massage. As mentioned in ValmikiRamayan, the bow was broken on Ashwin Purnima and the marriage of Ram and Sita was done on MargaSuklaPanchamitithi, so it is called BibahPanchami. It is also called ‘Ram Bibah Utsav’.
Each year, it is celebrated on MargaSuklaPanchami in the Margashira (Agrahayana) Hindu lunar calendar which is in November or early December on the Gregorian calendar. This year,Vivah Panchami is on 8th December 2021, Wednesday (2078-08-22).
People from almost all the regions of India observe the festival of BibahPanchami at various temples of Ram and Sita. But the most pious and grand celebrations of Vivah Panchami is held in Ayodhya (the birth place of Lord Ram) and in Janakpur (located in Nepal, the birthplace of Goddess Sita). The marriage anniversary of Lord Ram and Sita is celebrated at Janaki temple in Janakpurdham. It is celebrated to mark the marriage of Lord Ram and Sita. Nepali migrants working in different parts ofIndia return home to celebrate the festival of Vivah Panchami.
Similarly, more than thousands of devotees from India visit Janaki Mandir during this festival to worship and see the marriage ceremony of Lord Ram and Goddess Sita. The Ram Janaki and other temples are crowded with visitors and local people. Janaki Bhajan Kirtan, katha(stories) and dances are performed in this festival. People take a holy dip in various ponds of Janakpur likeGangasagar, Dhanush Sagar, AargazaPokhari, etc.
The festival is formally concluded exactly like a typical marriage of Hindus. The Janaki temple is decorated where all the wedding ceremonial processis conducted in the temple premises. It is customary to bring Janti(wedding guests) from Ayodhya (India) to Janakpurdham(Nepal). Janticoming from India are specially saints who are specially treated in Janakpurdham. Some group of people also organize ‘Bal Natak’ where a male child acts as Ram Chandra and another female child actsasSita and people walkas associates of Ram and Sita in the Janti.
After that, a weeklong religious fair starts. The entirefestival lasts for seven daysexhibiting seven special festive traits that lure millions of tourists from Nepal, all over India and other neighboring countries. People enjoy the seven culturals and religious aspects of BibahPanchami.
- Nagar Darshan:
The celebration of Vivah Panchami starts from the “Nagar Darshan” meaning the city tour where, the priest (mahanth) of Janaki temple acts as King Janak;the father of Sita and on the other side, theMahanth of Ram temple acts as King Dasharath; the father of Ram. During this, the idols of lord Ram, and his brother Lakshman are carried around the city, where local peopledecorate the entire city to give look as Tretayuga. In this special occasion, Janakpur, a city rich in ponds, lakes and beautiful Maithili culture looks full of divine beauty.
The Second ceremonial day is the fulbariLila where the first meeting of Ram and Sita occurred. In Janakpur, this is performed in the nearest garden of Janaki temple i.e.,‘Bibah mandap’ the Marriage Garden. However, the actual FulbariLila takes place in Bihar,Fulhar.
The third ceremonial day is “DhanushYagya” where all the kings around the world participate in wedding challenge of king Janak to lift and string the Shiva Dhanush. However, everyone fails but lord Ram lifts Shiva Dhanushup and breaks it which showshis supremacy. As per Valmiki Ramayana, the entire DhanushYagya takes place in the Rangbhumi(BarhabighahaPlayground) in Janakpur.
- Tilak Utasav(Tilak Celebration):
The fourth day celebration isTilak Utsav where happiness is shared among locals. It is performed on Tritiya Tithi. As per the ceremony, the priest of Janaki temple sends 10l guests to Ram Mandir where all the guests are welcomed by the honored priest of Ram Mandir. The priests of JanakiMandir ShreeTapeshwar Das and Ram mandir Shree Ram Das hug each other to welcome the meet which is also known as the ” SamdhiMilan” locally.
The fifth in day celebration Matkoris celebrated on Chaturthitithi. It is the traditional occasion performed by bride family where the local women including the participating guests from Ayodhya will help dig the mud from Ganga Sagar singing local ancient cultural songs. The mud eventually unearthed from the Ganga Sagar is used in making of the “Bedi” for the marriage celebration.
- Wedding Ceremony:
On the second last and very special day which is called Vivah Panchami, the entire ceremony of the wedding is carried out in the premises of the Janaki temple. The idols of Ram and Sita, after the ‘pranpratistha’ rituals are dressed and decorated like bride and groom and taken out in “Ranga Bhumi’ after doing parikarma of Janaki mandir for five times. In Ranga Bhumi, the Swyambarprogramme is performed on day time. Mahantha of Janaki mandir offersmarigold garland, arti and puja to goddess Janaki and Ram. After the completion of swayambarprogramme, the chariots carrying the bride and groom are taken on a procession including traditional music around Janakpurdham city and end at the Janaki temple area where the devotees sing various “Bhajans” in order to seek Lord Ram and Sita’s blessings. The famous bhajan “Mangal Bhawan Amangal Hari…’ is sung by devotees.After that, the statue of Ram is returned to Ram mandir in Janakpurdham.
Again, at night, the baratis(the wedding guests) reach to Janaki temple and according to tradition at first ritualistic marriage completed by the statue of Ram and Sita and then the marriage is performed by those actors who play the role of Ram and Sita with the marriage procession and the local women sing and celebrate the occasion the entire night.
After the completion of marriage ceremony,on the next day i.e.,at the last day Ramkalevais celebrated where thousands of people visit Janaki temple to witness the last day of the festival. On this day, all the guests from Ayodhya(India) are treated with great respect and offered delicious foods of Janakpurdham. Furthermore, they are offered a variety of clothing and gifts. During this day, men and women on both sides sing and satire each other for making fun of each other’s. Similarly, one more special programme is organized i.e., dance performed by ‘Dome’ and ‘Domin’ (people who are recognized as the so-called lowest castes in the society).
Even today in the age of science and technology,the Ram Sita’s marriage is as important as it was before.People believe that marrying on this day can help the bride and bridegroom live long lasting and prosperous together as Ram and Sita. According to the live report of Kasthmandap TV programme, two years ago (in 2019) 108 marriage was performed on the same mandap on the day of Vivah Panchami in Janaki Mandir, Janakpurdham.
Married women celebrate Vivah Panchami for marital bliss while unmarried women celebrate it to get good husbands. It is believed that, we can get two bodies into one soul for the seven life cycles. So, every couple who want happiness in their marriedlife perform puja on this auspicious day.
Sweta Chaudhary :
BBA 1st Semester/1st Year, University Campus, Rajarshi Janak University, Janakpurdham