King Janaka was the ruler of the kingdom of Videha. Its capital city was Mithila. Janaka was not only a brave king, but was also very well-versed in the Shastras and Vedas. One day, while a field was being ploughed in the presence of the king, he found a female child in the deep furrow dug by the plough. Janaka and his wife Sunayana were overjoyed by this discovery and adopted the little baby girl as their own. The child was named Sita, meaning ‘Furrow’ in Sanskrit. Thus, Sita is considered to be the daughter of Bhumi Devi (Mother Earth) since she was born or found in the earth.
Sita grew up to be a girl of unparalleled beauty and charm and possessed the greatest of womanly virtues. When Sita became of marriageable age, the king decided to have a Swayamvara which included a contest. The king was in possession of an immensely heavy bow, presented to him by the God Shiva. Whoever could wield the bow and string it, could marry Sita.
After the protection of Vishwamitra’s sacred ritual, on their way back to Ayodhya, Rama and Lakshmana traveled to Mithila. Accompanied by Vishwamitra, they attended Sita’s Swayamvara. Rama successfully broke Shiva's bow as he picked it up and was examining the tautness of its bowstring. The young prince’s strength and courage perplexed all the attendees. And with the breaking of the bow, Janaka proposed Sita to Rama in marriage. On the approval of Sage Vishwamitra, Janaka sent his messengers to Ayodhya to convey the message to Dasharatha. Upon hearing the story of how his son Rama not only lifted the bow of Shiva, but also broke it, Dasharatha was overjoyed. He gladly accepted the marriage proposal of Rama and Sita. The next day, King Dasharatha’s delegation traveled to Mithila to carry out the wedding ceremony. Upon reaching there, he received proposals for marriage of his other three sons. Lakshmana was betrothed to Urmila, another daughter of Janaka. Vishwamitra proposed the marriages of Bharata and Shatrughna with the two daughters of Kushadhvaja, the younger brother of Janaka. Thus Bharata was married to Maandavi and Shatrughna to Shrutakeerti.
After the wedding ceremonies of his four sons, Dasharatha and his delegation returned to Ayodhya. The young princes and their brides were welcomed with pomp and grandeur. Yudhaajit, the maternal uncle of Bharata, who had come for the weddings of the princes, now took Bharata and Shatrughna to his kingdom. Rama and Lakshmana engaged in the welfare of their subjects, at the behest of their father. The couples entered the threshold of their blissful married lives.