Raksha Bandhan is a festival with a religious significance that is known to strengthen family ties and celebrates the pure love between a brother and a sister. It is also known as Rakhi Purnima, Punya Pradayak, Vish Tarak and Pap Nashak. It falls in the auspicious month of Shravan during the full moon period. It is more of a custom than a ritual which strengthens the brother-sister bond based on one simple thread. A secular tradition that is celebrated in India, Nepal and Mauritius; it is not confined to only Hindus and is prominent among the Jains as well. In today’s date, this festival has crossed the domain where it was restricted to trying the rakhi between only siblings of the opposite sex. Nowadays, this occasion also encompasses the notion of trying rakhis to neighbours and friends as well.
~ ~ ~Raksha Bandhan Celebration ~ ~ ~
Different varieties of rakhis flock the market a month in advance. Girls can be seen shuttering about with friends and family choosing the best rakhis for the beloved brothers. Raksha Bandhan is observed as a holiday all over the country. New clothes are donned after taking an early shower in the morning. After offering prayers, the sister performs an aarti of her brother. This is followed by tying of the rakhi on the brother’s wrist, followed by sharing of gifts. Where the sister wishes for the wellbeing of her sibling, the brother promises to be her guardian forever. If any sibling happens to stay away from the family, the rakhis are couriered way in advance. The celebration of Raksha Bandhan is not the same in every region. Although the essence remains the same, the customs and the names vary.
- In West Bengal and Odisha, this festival is known as Jhulan Purnima. Here, Lord Ram and Devi Sita are worshipped before the festivities commence.
- Raksha Bandhan collides with Pavitropana in Gujarat, and Shiva temples are worshipped during this time.
- In the western part of the South and Orissa, this custom is celebrated along with Avani Avittam.
- It is known as Kajari Purnima is Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
- In Nepal, it is known as Janeu Purnima. Lord Shiva is worshipped and the ceremony of replacing the Janeu is followed.
- Called Narali Purnima in Maharashtra, this occasion is celebrated by making offerings to the sea.
- In Uttarakhand, the trying of rakhis also coincides with replacing the Janeu threads on the same day.
~ ~ ~ History of Raksha Bandhan ~ ~ ~
The Significance of Raksha Bandhan lies in the fact that the sister ties a Rakhi around her brother’s wrist and wishes for his prosperity. On the other hand, the brother swears to protect her forever. The meaning of this Raksha Bandhan translates to ‘bond of protection’. Some of the iconic moments related to Raksha Bandhan in history are listed below.
- This festival has been existing since time immemorial. It is believed to have been practiced during the Aryan Civilization some 6000 years ago.
- There was a time when the Rajputs and the Muslims were against each other. At such a time the Rajput Queen Rani Karnawati of Chittor sent a Rakhi to the Mughal emperor Humayun when her territory was under attack by the Sultan of Gujarat. The lines between religions blurred as Humayun rushed with his troops to save the queen's kingdom.
- Alexander the great was an extraordinary warrior but was threatened by the King of Porous. Around 300 BC Alexander’s wife sent the King of Porous a thread asking the him not to be harsh with her husband in the battle. As a result, of which he didn’t make the final attack that could have killed Alexander in an instant during the war.
~ ~ ~ Story of Raksha Bandhan ~ ~ ~
Many mythological tales fabricate the age old tradition of Raksha Bandhan.
- Draupadi tied a seriously wounded Krishna, a cloth on his finger (symbolic of a Rakhi) after which Krishna declared her, his sister. How can one forget the beloved Krishna, who as a brother protected his ‘sister’ Draupadi from being shamed in front of the Kauravas later?
- The river Yamuna tied a rakhi to the God of Death (Yama) and was immediately granted the gift of immortality.
- Lord Vishnu was busy protecting King Bali’s kingdom as part of the boon granted to Bali. Goddess Lakshmi seemed disheartened and went to Bali's palace as a Brahmin woman and took refuge. Later she tied him a rakhi and revealed her true nature to him. Hence, Vishnu was liberated from his task and could be with Goddess Lakshmi.