“The wise ladies taught them how to play the wedding games. Winning and losing, they made accusations and gave a ribbing to both queens.” (Janaki Mangala, 150)
juā khelāvana kautuka kīnha sayāninha |
jīti hāri misa dehiṃ gāri duhu rāninha ||
When Sita loses, her mother gets made fun of. When Rama loses, His mother takes a ribbing. “Who taught you how to play? It’s as if your family doesn’t know anything. You lost this one time, and you will lose again going forward.” Such jokes are allowed at the festive occasion of the wedding, and surprisingly here they are directed at the divine couple, Sita and Rama.
“O father, hear our prayer.” This is a common refrain when making requests to the man upstairs. He is the Almighty. He can create universes without a problem. He can then destroy them without even thinking about it. Just to build a house we require so much effort. We have to plan. We have to gather the materials. We have to chart out the construction, keeping a close eye on the schedule. Without the schedule it is difficult to do things in a timely manner. We complain about having to wake up early for school or work, but if the pressure wasn’t there we likely couldn’t get our work done on time. Thus the schedule helps to keep us active.
The Supreme Lord doesn’t require all of this. He doesn’t need an alarm clock to wake up. In an apparently sleeping state, just by His breathing in and out, so many universes manifest and then disappear. Since He is so powerful, it would make sense to seek His blessings. If we are in trouble, we go to Him for help. If we really want a loved one to be safe and protected, and we know that we can’t do so much on our own, we pray to the Lord to intervene.
The wedding is especially a time suitable for prayer. We see our loved ones entering a sacred covenant, a relationship to ideally last a lifetime. We pray to God that the newlyweds remain dedicated to each other, that they never forget their commitment to the relationship. We pray that God will protect them and allow them to enjoy family life.
Reverential worship of God is certainly superior to foolishly ignoring His existence, but the taste of interaction is sweeter when there is less fear. The leader of the nation certainly enjoys hearing praise from the citizens, but he takes greater pleasure in hearing the jokes from his friends and the loving complaints from his wife. Here the Supreme Lord is playing games with His eternal consort. In traditional Vedic weddings, the bride and groom don’t know each other going in. As a way to break the ice, to spend time with each other without it being awkward, the newlyweds play games. The intelligent ladies in the wedding party teach them how to play.
The enjoyment is enhanced through commentary, from both those witnessing and those participating. In basketball, there is the common practice known as “trash-talking,” where the opponents exchange verbal barbs in good fun. A player doesn’t want to perform poorly in fear that the other side will lob jokes. This is meant to be in good fun, as ideally afterwards everyone shows respect for one another.
Here the ladies showing Sita and Rama how to play the games offer abuses at the two queens after the outcome of the game. If Sita wins a particular round of a game, they make fun of Rama’s mother. If Rama wins, they make fun of Sita’s mother. Who would ever think of making jokes at the Supreme Lord’s family? Only those in the same family can do so. The enemies of God are not permitted, since they hold an inimical attitude. Those who only see God as an Almighty figure are also shut out from these delightful pastimes.
Only the devotees with pure motives can participate in such delightful joke-making. Such words enhance the pleasure of Sita and Rama, who like any other people enjoy the association of their friends and family. They are not conservative in this regard. They consider everyone eligible to be a friend, as they are intimately related to everyone. In each individual there reside two souls. One represents the person itself, and the other the Supreme Lord. This means that we all have God inside of us. We are not God Himself, but we are like Him and always tied to Him.
When we choose to ignore His presence, we miss out on His association. We think that He doesn’t exist or that He is a person to be feared only. Why fear Him when He is always with us? Why think that we could be God when we can’t even get what we want all the time? Better to be dedicated to Him in thought, word and deed. Better to be immersed in thoughts of Him. Better to please His dearmost associates, like Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman, and the many who follow their example of devotion.
The women in the marriage ceremony associated with Sita and Rama in a wonderful way. The divine couple blessed them with further association, for this is the best reward that can be offered. Both men and women alike can receive these blessings. Shri Hanuman, a being with perfect intelligence and unmatched strength, gets the same blessings in the form of support for his devotion from Sita herself. He delights in the wonderful marriage ceremony by hearing the beautiful poetry of Goswami Tulsidas, a person whom he personally inspired.
When of God to live in fear,
Hope that prayers He’ll hear.
“O Lord this painful condition relieve,
In your abundant mercy we believe.”
Here jokes to God’s family some did give,
Only because as intimate family to live.
Such words from devotees give pleasure a thousand fold,
To Supreme Lord, whose pastimes in works of Tulsi told.