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Swayamvara: Wikis

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Swayamvara (Sanskrit: स्‍वयं‍वर), in ancient India, was a practice of choosing a life partner, among a list of suitors by a girl of marriageable age. Swayam in Sanskrit means Self and Vara means choosing or wanting.

In this practice, the girl's father decides to conduct the Swayamvara of the daughter at an auspicious time and venue, and broadcasts the news of this to the outside world. Kings, typically used to send messengers to outside lands whereas commoners arranged to spread the news within the local community.

On the appointed day and venue, a list of suitors arrive at the girl's home and ask for her hand. The girl and her family get to choose among the suitors, sometimes through evaluating the completion of various tasks assigned. When the girl identifies the husband of her choice, she garlands him and a marriage ceremony is held immediately.

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Historical examples

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Ram-Sita

In the Hindu epic Ramayana, Sita is married to Rama the only one strong enough to lift the Shiv Dhanush and string it.

Draupadi swayamwara

For Draupadi, the daughter of King Dhrupad of Paanchal in Mahabharata, Aspirants had to hit a fish's eye with a bow and arrow. This fish was just an image on a rotating wheel, which was rotating on a rod. The rod was placed in a pan filled with water. The many suitors had to pierce the eye with a bow and arrow only using the reflection created by the water in the pan. Prince Arjuna, the third among the Pandavas, succeeds in hitting the fish. Draupadi disqualifies Karna from this contest as he is not a pure Kshatriya.

Nal-Damayanti

Another famous Swayamvara from the Mahabharata is found in the story of Damayanti who chooses Nala for her husband, against the wishes of the gods.

Prithviraj-Sanyogita

The King Jaichand of Kannauj held a swayamvara for his daughter Sanyogita, who was in love with Prithviraj Chauhan, the enemy of her Father. To insult Prithviraj, Jaichand installed a lookalike statue of Prithviraj as the gatekeeper to the swayamvara. Sanyogita during the swayamvara went and garlanded the statue, Prithviraj who was hiding nearby took Samyukta on his steed and eloped with her.[[pl:Swaramwa


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