On the banks of the Sarayu river stood the magnificent city of Ayodhya, the capital of the kingdom of Kosala. King Dasaratha, its ruler performed ceremonial sacrifice to fire God for having desirable son (putreshthi yagna). As a result, Ram was born to Kaushalya, Laxman and Shatrughna to Sumitra and Bharat to Kaikeyi. As they grew, sacred thread ceremony was held for all the four brothers.
One day Sage Vishwamitra, approached the king, asking for Ram and Laxman's help in killing demons who were disturbing his meditation. Dasharatha was apparently hesitant as Ram and Laxman were of tender age at that time and were not ready for a fight against mighty demons. However Dashratha consented as sage Vashishta advised him that it would be in their best interest. They would learn numerous secret art and weaponry from Vishwamitra.
Vishwamitra led Ram and Laxman to his hermitage (ashram). On their way, Tadaka (or Tataka) obstructed. On Vishwamitra's command, Ram at once killed Tadaka. On reaching his ashram, Vishwamitra started oblation and assigned the task of protecting the place to Ram and Laxman. The heroic lads destroyed and thrashed demons like Marich, Khar-Dushan and Subahu easily. Vishwamitra was impressed and took them under his wing and trained them to use magic weaponry.
King Janaka invited Vishwamitra to adorn the swayamvar of his daughter, Sita. Vishwamitra asked Ram and Laxman to accompany him to the kingdom of Mithila ruled by King Janaka. On their way to Janakpur, Ram noticed a stone idol of a beautiful woman lying on ground. Vishwamitra told Ram the history behind it. She was Ahilya, wife of Sage Gautama but turned into stone due a curse given by Gautama for her misconduct. Sri Ram touched the stone with his feet and she transformed back to her original form.
At Janakpuri, Vishwamitra took Ram and Laxman for sight seeing. At flower garden, Ram had first glimpse of Sita and both were mutually attracted. The day of swayamvar arrived. Janaka proclaimed that the man who could string the mighty bow of Shiva would win his beautiful daughter, Sita's hand in marriage. Many kings tried to lift the great bow, but none could even budge it. Janak was disheartened. He lamented that 'it seems that the earth is devoid of brave men. My daughter would remain unmarried.'
Rama, with the blessings of the gods and his guru Vishwamitra, lifted the bow with no effort. As he bent down to string the bow, it broke with a sound that echoed in the three worlds, leaving him shocked at his own strength. Sita was overjoyed and garlanded Ram. But the path was not all rosy for Ram. As news of breaking of arrow spread like wildfire, Parshuram known for his anger came to the site. When he saw broken bow he asked who did it. Ram promptly made him calm with his courteous replies. When Parshuram figured out the true identity of Ram, he was very much pleased and blessed him.
Envoy was sent to Ayodhya with this good news. Dashratha prepared for a grand procession and arrived in Mithila. A grand ceremony marked the marriage of Ram and Sita. With the advise of Vashishta, Laxman, Bharat and Shatrughna were married to Janak's other daughters namely Urmila, Mandavi and Shrutkirti in order.
After few days, Dashratha departed for Ayodhya along with four newly wedded couples. For the people of Ayodhya, it turned out to be a festival of festivals.