Raksha Bandhan is the noble and pure festival, celebrating the chaste bond of siblinghood. The special occasion celebrates the emotional bond of love shared by a brother and a sister. ‘Rakhi’ is tied around the wrist of the brother as ‘suraksha kavach’ while the brother promises to protect his sister. The thread of love, ‘rakhi,’ pulsates with sublime sentiments attached to sisterly love and is rightly termed as ‘rakhi’ standing for ‘raksha’. The festival of ‘Raksha Bandhan’ signifies that the strong must protect the weak.
When is the festival of Raksha Bandhan celebrated?
The ritual of tying Rakhi is observed on the ‘Purnima’ or full moon day of ‘Shravan.’ Sisters tie the Rakhi string on the right wrist of their brothers and pray for their well being and long life. Normally made up of golden and silver threads, rakhis are well decorated with beads, crystals and are magnificently crafted by embroidered sequins. They even use semi-precious stones and at times rakhis are also made up of real silver and other precious metals. In fact, the ritual further strengthens the bond of siblinghood and surpasses the confines of the family. When the thread is tied on the wrist of neighbour or cousin, the celebration underscores the requirement for a harmonious society. Individuals can exist in a peaceful manner in the society, and in fact, each member of the community must commit to safeguarding each other.
What does Rakhi celebrate?
The chief Hindu festival, Raksha Bandhan, celebrates love and eternal bonding between brothers and sisters. Even those who are not related biologically, they can tie the rakhi. Those who do not have a brother or a sister, they can choose their best friends for tying rakhis or simply ask the priest to tie a rakhi for protection. The festival symbolizes the love of a sister for her brother and her prayers for the well-being of brother.
The auspicious day of rakhi called by various names
Rakhi Purnima or Kajri Purnima, as it is addressed in the North India, is the time when Goddess Bhagwati is worshipped, and barley is sown. In fact, this auspicious occasion is called by different names in various regions like Coconut Full Moon or the Nariyal Purnima. Raksha Bandhan is addressed as ‘Punya Paradayak,’ ‘Vish Tarak’, etc.
The history of Raksha Bandhan
Raksha Bandhan, celebrating the strong bond of love, resulted from political ties among the princely states and kingdoms. History pages testify that Maratha Queens and the Rajputs did send rakhis to the Mughal Kings, and in return, the Mughal Kings, despite their enmity with the Rajputs and Marathas, promised to offer protection to the Maratha Queens. They honoured immensely the fraternal bond and proved their love for Maratha sisters at critical times. Through the exchange of sacred threads, marital alliances were established among the kingdoms. It is seen in the past that the mighty King Porus stopped from hitting Alexander, the Great since the wife of Alexander tied a rakhi around the wrist of King Porus. He promised his sister not to hurt King Alexander and thus to keep the promise, to honour the sacred thread, he refrained from striking Alexander.
Myths and legends surrounding Raksha Bandhan
As per the mythological illusion, Rakhi was celebrated to worship Varuna, the Sea God. Hence, Rakhi accompanied with offering ‘nariyal’ to Varuna, taking part in fairs, ceremonial bathing of the Lord. This ritual was also observed by Yamuna and Indrani for their brothers Yama and Indra respectively. Once Lord Indra was almost defeated or vanquished by the demons. Being totally saddened, Lord Indra took the advice of Guru Brihaspati, who suggested celebrating the auspicious Shravan Purnima. The wife of Lord Indra thus tied a rakhi to Guru Brihaspati, and he then attacked the demons with a renewed force. Hence, Rakhi symbolizes the various aspects of protecting good from evil. In the epic ‘Mahabharata,’ Lord Krishna advises Yudhisthira to tie the sacred thread in order to guard himself. Thus, Yudhisthira could avoid the impeding evils. As per the Puranic scripture, the stronghold of Bali had been Rakhi only.
Easing the societal norms with rakhis
A ritual like Rakhi can help to ease different societal strains and can fabulously induce or instil fellow-feelings. It opens up the channel of expression and allows us to rework as real human beings. Raksha Bandhan is one of the most celebrated festivals, and auspicious occasions celebrated all across the Indian subcontinent. It is the very epitome of the divine bond of love shared between a brother and a sister. Observed in Shravan on a full moon, Rakhi is a sacred and beloved festival of brothers and sisters. A sister bestows her love and care which is everlasting by tying a rakhi around the wrist of the brother. Celebrated with great pomp, show, and grandeur, during Rakhis elaborate gifts are exchanged between brothers and sisters. Gifts showcase the underlying love and care of siblings.
The trend of exchanging gifts on Rakhi
The trend of exchanging rakhis gifts during Raksha Bandhan is as old as rakhi itself. The occasion of rakhi opens endless options for you to choose gifts. There are hundreds of online stores selling rakhi gifts. You can find everything with the online stores whether it is a traditional rakhi, the box of chocolates, flowers, cakes, cookies, soft toys, grooming products. Sisters try and select the best rakhis for their brothers and often opt for designer rakhis. They aim at decorating their brother’s wrist by choosing beaded, floral, crystal, gold and silver plated, and Om and Lord Ganesha rakhis. Brothers also purchase bags, wallets, cosmetics, artificial jewellery, teddies, chocolates, cakes, and flowers for their sweet and beloved sisters. Seeing the very nature of Rakhi celebration, we can say that Rakhi is the most enjoyable and sacred festivals of all.
Primarily observed in India, Raksha Bandhan is also celebrated in Nepal and parts of Pakistan and Mauritius. Rakhi or thread is the ‘knot of protection.’ The sister performs the ceremony and expresses her love for the brother and also prays for his well being. It also celebrates the family ties since family members tie rakhis among themselves and exchange gifts. It also brings together people of various castes and creeds. Individuals of different castes can tie rakhis and strengthen the bond of friendship. Prayer, food, and promise form an integral part of Rakhi celebration.