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It is well-known that, in Kishkindha Kāṇḍa, before Hanumān begins his search for Sītā, Rāma gives his signet ring to Hanumān which he later hands over to Sītā saying:

O illustrious lady! I am a monkey and a messenger of the wise Rama. O princess! Look at this ring too, marked with Rama's name.

I brought this ring given by the high souled Rama, for the purpose of gaining your confidence. Get consoled indeed. Happiness to you! You are now free from the object of your grief.

Back in Ayodhya Kāṇḍa, Kaikeyi's second wish was:

Rama has to take refuge in the forest of Dandaka for fourteen years and let him become an ascetic wearing rags, deer skin and matted hair.

But unlike his other ornaments, why didn't Rāma leave his ring back in Ayodhyā before setting out to the forest? Why was he carrying his ring with him?

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One explanation, as to why Rāma carried his ring to the forest, offered by the commentators at valmikiramayan.net, is:

When Rama abdicated everything and no other jewellery is evident on his body, though his bow and arrows have golden finishing, then why this lone ring is still there with him - is the debatable question.

This indicates the custom of exchanging rings in marriage. This is the ring got prepared by Seetha in her kingdom Mithila and she herself put it on Rama's finger in their marriage as vara varaNa 'selecting the wooer...'

When Hanuma gives this ring to Seetha in Sundara Kanda the reaction of Seetha is:

gR^ihiitvaa prekShamaaNaa saa bhartR^i kara vibhuuShaNam |
'on taking the adornment of her husband's hand she looked at it...' at 5-36-4.

This ring to men is almost like the mangala suutra 'the sacred marriage-time pendant of Hindu ladies. Thus, none can ask a man to remove his wedding ring as long as his wife is alive and attached.

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