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Vishwamitra, Rama and Lakshmana reached Mithila in time for Sita’s Swayamvar. As per Janaka’s wish, the mighty Siva Bow was hauled to the wedding hall. The hall wore a grand look and was occupied by many kings and princes. Ravana, the king of Lanka was also present and was confident that he could win Sita’s hand easily. For, Janaka had announced that to win Sita’s hand in marriage, any king or prince had to lift the bow and string it. Many tried, but failed. Even Ravana fell down while trying to lift the bow and had hurriedly disappeared from the hall out of shame. Vishwamitra turned towards Rama and told him gently, “Son! I am sure you are keen to examine the bow. Why don’t you lift it and see how heavy it is?”
King Janaka was quite doubtful whether a young man like Rama would be able to achieve while the other well known kings and princes had failed. But he felt very impressed by Rama’s noble looks and hence allowed him to contest.
Rama bowed before Vishwamitra to seek his blessings and walked up to the mighty Siva Bow. He lifted it up effortlessly and stringed it. The entire hall echoed with the sound of the bow being stringed. Except for Rama, Lakshmana and Vishwamitra, everybody else turned pale. Rama lifted the bow like a toy and broke it into two. King Janaka was extremely happy that Rama, the eldest prince of Ayodhya was to wed his daughter Sita.
On Vishwamitra’s advice, Janaka sent messengers to Ayodhya to convey this happy news to Dasharatha. The message read: Sri Rama has won the hand of my daughter Sita in swayamvar. I am inviting you and your family to come to Mithila and accept Sita as your daughter-in-law.
King Dasharatha was delighted to hear this news and reached Mithila along with his wives, his ministers, sage Vashishta and others, to take part in the wedding.
While Rama wed Sita, Urmila married Lakshmana and Janaka’s nieces, Mandavi and Shrutakirthi married Bharata and Shatrugna respectively.
These weddings were performed on a very grand scale. Dasharatha donated cows in the name of each of his sons, and not to be outdone, king Janaka made cash presents to all the brahmins. A grand feast was arranged for all the citizens. The newly wed couples were blessed by one and all.
Sita was a devout wife who always stood by her husband. The extremely beautiful Sita and the handsome Rama made an ideal couple.
The day after the wedding, Vishwamitra returned to his Ashram (hermitage). Dasharatha with his sons and daughters-in-law, along with his entourage left for Ayodhya. Halfway through their journey, a severe storm broke out. The entire atmosphere was filled with dust and was enveloped in darkness. At that time, a Rishi by name Parashurama appeared before them. His face was full of rage. He carried an axe on his shoulder and had an enormous bow with him. His awesome appearance proclaimed that he was no ordinary Rishi. He was the mighty
Parashurama who had conquered several Kshatriyas and had voyaged round the earth twenty-one times.
Parashurama went straight to Rama, and said in a sarcastic voice, “Rama, I heard that breaking the Siva Bow was very easy for you. I have a bigger and a mightier bow. Let us see whether you can string it.” Dasharatha who was watching Parashurama, came running to him and prayed to him, “Parashurama, please calm down. My children have not done any harm to you. Bless them and spare Rama.” Parashurama ignored Dasharatha’s plea. He taunted Rama again and again.
Smiling gently, Rama picked up the bow very easily and fixed the arrow to it. He then asked Parashurama, “Sir, you are a brahmin and it would be improper for me to use the arrow on you. Hence, please tell me, what do I aim the arrow at?” Parashurama was stunned with Rama’s mastery over the weapon. He could not say anything, but only gazed at Rama. It dawned upon him that Rama was no ordinary person but was an Avathar (reincarnation) of Lord Vishnu like himself born for a specific purpose. He then departed for the Himalayas to continue his penance.
King Dasharatha felt relieved, and the journey continued.
At Ayodhya, a grand reception awaited the newly-weds. For many days, this happy event was celebrated with pomp and pageantry. Dasharatha was very happy that his sons, especially Rama, were loved so much by the citizens of Ayodhya.