Saturday, 24 September 2011

Draupadi's Swayamvara-- Visiting Mahabharata 39

( It was difficult to choose between the versions. While the story is similar, its sequence in 'Vachana Bharata' was intriguing!)
The Pandavas quietly enter Panchala, go around the town and take shelter in a potter's house. They are still disguised as Brahmins and survive by going around begging for alms.

Drupada still hopes that Arjuna is alive, tries his best to get news of  the Pandavas but with no success. Finally he orders that a very strong bow and a rotating contraption with a target is made. He send messages all around which says: 'Anyone who  bends this bow and strings it and shoots five arrows through the machine and pierces the target will get my daughter!'

The kings from various countries, including Duryodhana and Karna, brahmins and rishis all arrive. Drupada greets them with due respect and offers great hospitality. The town wears a festive look. The swayamvara hall is specially made in an auspicious location. Surrounded by beautiful buildings, entrances are decorated with flowers and the grounds are well carpeted and with incense burning at many locations. Musical instruments are played all over. The buildings are many storeyed with numerous doors, painted walls and golden windows. Stairs are easy to climb, hundreds of chairs and cots covered with sheer white fabrics are provided for the convenience of the guests. The exquisite scents used spreads for yojanas!

The kings occupy the many pavilions, they are fashionably dressed for the occasion. The competitive spirit has already set in among the kings! The populace  seated in the specially built stadium are trying to identify all the famous kings who have assembled. The Pandavas get there and sit among the group of  brahmins.

The festivities go on for 15 days as more and more people join. They are entertained by actors and dancers who are suitably rewarded  by the pleased royalty.  On the sixteenth day Draupadi has a ritual bath, is dressed in a grand sari and is adorned with beautiful jewellery walks in with a specially decorated golden kalasha. The music stops and the crowd goes silent.

Her brother Dhristadhyumna comes to the center of the stage and speaks with a loud and clear voice and explains the much publicised rules of the swayamvara.

Draupadi as imagined by the seven year old Samhita Arni.

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