RakshaBandhan is a Hindu Festival, the chaste of love between a brother and a sister is one of the deepest and noblest of human emotions. ‘RakshaBandhan’ or ‘Rakhi’ is a special occasion to celebrate this emotional bonding by typing a holy thread around the wrist. This thread, which pulsates with sisterly love and sublime sentiments, is rightly called the ‘Rakhi’. It means ‘a bond of protection’, and RakshaBandhan signifies that the strong must protect the weak from all that’s evil.
RakshaBandhan is an ancient festival and has many myths and historic legends linked to it. For many example, the Rajput queens practised the custom of sending rakhi threads to neighbouring rulers as token of brotherhood. On RakshaBandhan sisters tie a Rakhi on her brother’s wrist. This symbolizes the sister’s love and prayers for the brother’s well-being and the brother’s lifelong vow to protect her. The festival falls on the full moon day of the Shravan month of the Hindu Iunisolar Calendar.
The Social Binding
This ritual not only strengthens the bond of love between brothers and sisters, but also transcends the confines of the family. When a Rakhi is tied on the wrist of close friends and neighbours, it underscores the need for a harmonious social life, where every individual co-exist peacefully as brothers and sisters.
Myths and legends
According to one mythological allusion, Rakhi was intended to be the worship of the sea-god Varuna. Hence, offerings of coconut to Varuna, ceremonial bathing and fairs at waterfronts accompany this festival. There are also myths that describe the ritual as observed by Indrani and Yamuna for their respective brothers Indra and Yamun. Once, Lord Indra stood almost vanquished in a long-drawn battle against the demons. Full of remorse, he sought the advice of Guru Brihaspati, who suggested for his sortie the auspicious day of ShravanPurnima. On the day. Indra’s wife and Brihaspati tied a scared thread on the wrist of Indra, who then attacked the demon with renewed force and routed him.
Another controversial historical account is that of Rani Karnavati of Chittor and Mughal Emperor Humayun, which dates to 1535 CE. When Rani Karnavati, the widowed queen of the king of Chittor, realised that she could not defend against the invasion by the Sultan of Gujarat. Bahadur Shah, she sent a Rakhi to Emperor Humayun. Touched, the Emperor immediately set off with his troops to defend Chittor. Humayun arrived too late, and Bahadur Shah managed to sack the Rani’s fortress. Although contemporary commentators and memoirs do not mention the Rakhi episode and some historians have expressed scepticism about it, it is mentioned in one mid-seventeenth centuaryRajasthani account.
Krishna considered Draupadi his sister. When Krishna cut his finger while beheading Shishupal, Draupadi immediately tore off a piece of her sari and bandages his cut. Krishna said that with this loving act, she wrapped him in debt and he would repay each “thread” when the time arrives. Indeed, whenever Draupadi needed Krishna’s protection she fervently prayed for his help, he came to the rescue and gave her unlimited cloth. This is one of the stories of the origin of the RakshaBandhan festival. In the epic Mahabbharat, Draupadi tied a Rakhi to Krishna while Kunti tied her Rakhi to her grandson Abhimanyu, before the Great War.
According to another legend, Yama, the god of Death had not visited his sister Yamuna for 12 years. Yamuna, the goddess of Yamuna River, was sad and consulted Ganga, the goddess of Ganga River. Ganga reminded Yama of his sister, upon which Yama visits her. Yamuna was overjoyed to see her brother, and prepared a bounty of food for Yama. The god Yama was delighted, and asked Yamuna what she wanted to gift. She wished that he, her brother should return and see her again, made river Yamuna immortal.
One of Tagore’s Poem invoking Rakhi is:
The love in my body and heart
For the earth’s shadow and light
Has stayed over years.
With its cares and its hopes it has thrown
A language of its own
Into blue skies.
It lives in my joys and glooms
In the spring night’s buds and blooms
Like a Rakhi-band
On the Future’s hand.