The Pandavas, the valiant and the virtuous princes were deceived by the Kauravas their cousins in a game of dice. As per the dictates of the Kauravas in response to their defeat, they had to lose all their kingdom and leave to the forest in exile. The five brothers were highly noble and were attached to each other in reverence and love. During the start of the exile, they made vows that they will never part from each other and they would all share all their fortunes and misfortunes during the course of the exile.
Once during their exile, Dhurupada, the ruler of Panchala announced an archery contest to select the right match for his daughter Draupadi. Earlier, Dhurupada had got Draupadi as his daughter when he conducted a Yajna sacrifice seeking an issue. Draupadi was divinely blessed to emanate from the sacrificial altar and was growing in the palace of Dhurupada as his beloved daughter in all piousness, knowledge and beauty.
Intimation was sent to a large number of princes in different countries regarding the contest and a large gathering arrived to participate in the contest and win the hands of Draupadi, who was the apple of their eyes. The contest was this. There was a golden fish hung from the ceiling. Under that, a vessel of oil was placed in which the image of the fish was reflecting. The participant had to look at the reflection in the vessel of oil and shoot the arrow to bring down the golden fish. Unfortunately no prince could prove successful.
The Pandavas were then into their exile and they had attended the contest in disguise. Arjuna, the valiant and the most talented archer tried his luck and completed the task in the very first attempt. As per the word given by Dhurupada, she was to be given in marriage to Arjuna, the winner. The Pandavas had earlier vowed that they would share anything they get during their exile. Also, when they announced their mother Kunti on their return that they had won a fruit symbolically referring to Draupadi, she replied that they could share the fruit together.
Once the word came from the mouth of their revered mother, they had to comply with the injunction and they all unanimously decided to marry Draupadi. However, as per a strict agreement finalized between them, Draupadi would be the wife of a Pandava brother for a year successively in turns and during that period others will regard her as though she was their sister. This strict code of discipline was laid down even before the marriage and they all faithfully and sincerely abided by the same for the rest of their lives.
Draupadi is heralded in the Indian tradition as the most pious and chaste woman for the miraculous capacity she had to remain pure in her thought, word and conduct despite the fact that she had married all the five Pandavas. Draupadi is a highly interesting and unique character whose virtues will remain as eternal examples to guide men of all ages on this earth.