Panchali or Draupadi was the wife of the five Pandava brothers in the Mahabharata. The reason for her marrying the five brothers – Pandavas – is mentioned in the Markandeya Purana. The reason given in the Mahabharata is that Kunti had unknowingly asked the Pandavas to share what they had brought on that day not knowing that on that day Arjuna had won Panchali’s hand in marriage in the court of Drupada. But the reason for Kunti unknowingly uttering to share Panchali is mentioned Markandeya Purana.
Markandeya Purana states that the five Pandava brothers were in reality Indra, the king of Devas, and Draupadi was Indra’s wife Shachi Devi. So when her husband took the form of Pandavas she appeared as the wife of Pandava brothers. The story mentioned in this regard reads like this.
Once a holy man named Trishara started to perform powerful austerities to impress Brahma. Indra, the king of gods, felt that his position will be threatened if Brahma is pleased with Trishara. So he killed Trishara.
Trishara’s father was a powerful ascetic named Twashta. Upon hearing that his son was killed treacherously by Indra, the angry father pulled a hair from his head and threw it into the yajna fire. From the fire appeared a powerful demon named Vritasura.
Indra had started losing his powers due to the sin he committed – killing of Trishara. So he took the help of Sapta Rishis (seven saints) to deal with Vritasura. But when Sapta Rishis were trying to pacify Vritasura, Indra and other Devas used the opportunity to kill Vritasura.
This angered the Sapta Rishis who cursed Indra and other Devas to be born on earth and undergo humiliation and innumerable sufferings.
Indra then took responsibility of the situation and asked Dharmaraja, Vayu and Ashwini Kumars to give their energy. He then deposited this in Kunti and Madri, the wives of Pandu. Thus from the radiance of Dharmaraja was born Yudhishtira, from the radiance of Vayu was born Bhima, from the radiance of Indra was born Arjuna and from the radiance of Ashwini kumars was born Nakula and Sahadeva.
To help her husband during his earthly life Indra’s wife Shachi Devi appeared as Yagnaseni in the yajna conducted by Drupada. She was later named as Draupadi and she got married to the Pandavas.