“The king asked the qualified people to erect a mandapa. The married ladies sang songs and auspicious music played.” (Janaki Mangala, 113)
guni gana boli kaheu nṛpa mānḍava chāvana |
gāvahiṃ gīta suāsini bāja badhāvana ||
This verse from the Janaki Mangala serves the purpose of building anticipation for the blessed event. Thus far there was already much anticipation, fear, uncertainty, triumph, joy, victory, and relief. Nevertheless, with the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s pastimes, the thrills are never-ending. Just because one part of a particular pastime completes doesn’t mean that there is boredom to follow afterwards. Just as the bride-to-be in modern times gets excited over planning every detail of her upcoming wedding, so the residents of Janakpur got thrills at every moment in preparing for the marriage of Sita to Rama.
Ideally, you only get married once. The event should thus be as glamorous as possible; at least that is the hope. For the woman especially, the marriage day is the one thought about for many years. Pictures will be taken, so many friends and family will attend, and a new life will begin. Why not make it as special as possible? Why not go all out and find the best hall to host the reception?
In that hall you will want a certain theme. The plates and table settings must conform to the chosen theme. The flowers should be profuse and of the right kind. The guests should be seated in such a way that they will get along with each other. The food should be so good that no one will leave the place hungry. There should also be enough options to satisfy all the different tastes. The music should be perfect too. Either get a DJ or a live band to come and play festive songs. The hall should be in a nice area. If it has an outdoor section in the back, that’s even better. This way people can lounge outside during the appetizer portion of the evening. Let no one be bored at the wedding.
All of this shouldn’t really matter, as all that is happening is the acceptance of marriage vows by two people. Yet the hosts go the extra mile to enhance the joy from the occasion. With a marriage ceremony you have an excuse to invite your friends over. If it were an ordinary day, they may not be so willing to travel to wherever you live. Also, it would be difficult to get all of your friends and family to come on the same day. If you have the occasion of the marriage, why not take full advantage of it? What is the harm in celebrating?
For King Janaka, the occasion had more meaning. He was to give away his precious daughter Sita. Her future didn’t look so bright just a few moments before. Janaka knew that Sita was not ordinary. Her bodily features were auspicious, as was the way in which she came into his life. He found her one day while ploughing a field to perform a sacrifice. What an odd way to welcome in your first child. Janaka was thrilled nevertheless, and he named the newly found baby Sita because she came from the ground.
He couldn’t arrange her marriage in the traditional way, through matching up the qualities of the prospective grooms. He decided instead to hold a contest of strength. Whoever could first lift an amazingly heavy bow would wed his beautiful daughter. Only one man did. Named Rama, He hailed from Ayodhya, where His father was the king. Rama was the preferred choice upon first sight, so everyone in Janaka’s family was happy that He won.
Here Janaka orders that the mandapa be prepared. This is the architectural structure that hosts important ceremonies in the Vedic tradition. It looks very nice from the outside, and it acts as a sort of temple. Marriage is based in religion. If it weren’t, it would have no purpose. The only reason the definition of marriage is up for debate today is because its use has been widely non-religious. No one has to teach a male and a female how to get together. The animals already mate without anyone instructing them. They have children and families without requiring marriage.
The marriage institution is passed down from God for the purpose of regulating behavior. Sex life is the greatest impediment towards understanding the living entity’s true nature and his purpose for living. The more sex life goes uncontrolled, the more into ignorance one falls. You don’t need to hear from the Vedas to understand this. Just see how quickly relationships in sense gratification dissolve. The difference between the relationship and the casual date is that sexual relations ideally occur more often in the relationship. And so even with regular sexual engagement available, there are disagreements, to the point that the two parties no longer can stand each other. If uncontrolled sex life were beneficial, then the opposite would hold true; the parties would become happier and happier as the marriage went on.
Of course it is possible to increase your happiness through marriage, but only when the aim is right. The marriage should help both parties advance in their spiritual awareness. At the same time, they get license to have children and become productive members of the community. Others are thus also benefited through their union. Sita would be Rama’s queen, and since Rama would one day take the throne, through marriage He would get an heir to keep the family line going. In finding Sita a husband Janaka would satisfy his duty of protecting his daughter.
Thus so many things would be taken care of through the auspicious occasion of the marriage. The ceremony would take place in a beautifully erected mandapa, and in the background would be auspicious songs sung by married women. Everyone was excited, as they waited for Rama’s family to arrive from Ayodhya. Janaka spared no expense for this occasion, making possible the dream wedding.
Marriage decided, in elated state,
Now worry over how to celebrate.
All friends and family occasion to bring,
So ordered making of mandapa did the king.
Every preparation had to be just right,
So that patrons to go back home in delight.
Rama and Janaka’s daughter an ideal pair,
Their wedding to be a dream affair.