Nepal celebrates ‘marriage made in heaven’ with IndiaBy Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS
Friday, December 10, 2010
KATHMANDU - Bands played joyously, Brahmins chanted mantras and women showered flowers as Nepal Friday celebrated a “marriage made in heaven” thousands of years ago and forming one of its earliest social links with India.
The temple town Janakpur in southern Nepal along the Indo-Nepal border, where Hindu epic Ramayana comes alive this time every year, is witnessing the replay of marriage of Ram, the Hindu icon and exemplary king who is also regarded as an incarnation of Hindu god Vishnu, with Nepals daughter Sita, brought up by legendary king Janak, after whom the town is named.
Every year, the Janaki temple in Janakpur, dedicated to Sita, re-enacts the celestial wedding in the Ramayana, celebrating the virtuous kings prowess over the bow.
Thousands of devotees and holy men flock to Nepal from India to witness the annual ritual.
While a young boy and a girl are dressed up as Ram and Sita, the public ground near the temple becomes the venue of Ramleela, actors staging the exploits of Ram who with his army of monkeys vanquished demon king Ravan and razed his kingdom across the ocean.
A party of 1,001 people — the bridegrooms retinue - had arrived from Ayodhya in India, regarded as the region where Ram once ruled.
Traditionally, they are accommodated in the Ram temple and after six days of pre-marriage rituals, which includes worshipping the legendary bow of Hindu god Shiva that Ram was credited with mastering, the procession goes to the Janaki temple for the wedding ceremony.
On Friday, floats depicting Ram, his devoted brother Lakhman and other notable characters from the Ramayana went around the town cheered by people.
The final wedding rituals, accompanied by fireworks and music, will take place at the public ground in the evening.
Vivah Panchami, the celestial wedding date, underscores the deep religious ties between India and Nepal as well as social. Even today, hundreds of Nepali families give their sons and daughters in marriage to Indians across the border and vice versa.