Raksha Bandhan means “the tie or knot of protection”. The word Raksha means protection, while Bandhan conveys to tie. It is not the bond between a father and a mother, or a girl and boy but between a brother and a sister. This bond is pure and is celebrated as Raksha Bandhan.
Raksha Bandhan marks the occasion when sisters express their love and pray for their brother’s well-being. In Raksha Bandhan return, brothers take a lifelong vow to protect and take care of their sisters. The occasion is typically marked whereby sisters tie a sacred knot (Rakhi) on their brother’s wrist. They also adore the forehead of their brothers with ‘Tilak’. Religious hymns and prayers are sung, ‘Aarti’ is performed which forms a prime focus of this religious festival.
Why is it celebrated?
Ancient Hindu scriptures describe innumerable stories of Raksha Bandhan and Rakhi. These stories tell us the origin of Raksha Bandhan festival and why it has today become an important festival that we celebrate it with so devotion, joy, and enthusiasm.
According to the ancient Hindu Scripture, Bhavishya Purana. Once Devi Sachi, wife of Indra Dev was much grieved by the disgrace of his husband. Indra Dev at the hands of the powerful demon king Bali. She then approached Lord Vishnu and prayed before Him to help her husband. Lord Vishnu then gave Sachi a holy bracelet and told her to tie that bracelet on the wrist of Indra Dev. Sachi did so and tied that holy bracelet around the wrist of Indra.
Armored with the holy bracelet and the blessings of Sachi. Indra Dev then defeated the evil forces and regained the throne of heaven. The story suggests that holy thread of Raksha Bandhan have protective powers that guard men against evil forces and difficulties. The story also suggests that holy thread of Raksha Bandhan was not just limited to a brother-sister relationship and was even beneficial to safeguard husband-wife relationship and bestow them with protective powers.
King Bali and Goddess Lakshmi
This legend is derived from the ancient Hindu scripture Vishnu Purana. According to this legend, after King Bali was defeated at the hands of Lord Vishnu, he requested Him to live in his palace with his consort Goddess Lakshmi. Lord Vishnu happily granted this request by Bali and stayed in his palace. However, Goddess Lakshmi was not happy with this decision of Lord Vishnu and wanted to return to Vaikuntha Dham.
So, Goddess Lakshmi went to Bali and tied a Rakhi around the wrist of Bali, and made him a brother. In return, Bali accepted Goddess Lakshmi as his sister and asked her what gift she would like to have from him. At this, Goddess Lakshmi said to Bali to free Lord Vishnu from his request to live in his palace so that she may return to Vaikuntha Dham with her husband, Lord Vishnu. Bali accepted her request and Goddess Lakshmi then returned to Vaikuntha with Lord Vishnu. This story lays the foundation of the age-old love, bond, and care between a brother and sister.
Krishna and Draupadi
There is an incident in Mahabharata, which aptly describes the love and gratitude that exists in the relationship between brother and sister. Once Krishna cut his finger while slaying the cruel Shishupal. Draupadi immediately bandaged Krishna’s finger by tying a piece of cloth which she tore off from his sari.
Krishna was overwhelmed by this loving act of Draupadi and promised her that he would help her whenever she needed him. Indeed Krishna came to her help when Draupadi prayed to him and granted him with unlimited cloth during the famous episode when Dushsasana, the brother of Duryodhana tried to undress her.
Alexander the Great and King Puru
It so happened that when Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 B.C., his wife Roxana sent a sacred thread to King Puru, requesting him not to harm his husband during battle. According to tradition, King Puru gave full respect to the sacred thread sent to him by Roxana and promised that he would not harm Alexander. On the battlefield, when there was a great fight going on between Alexander and Puru. Puru saw the thread on his wrist and restrained himself from attacking Alexander personally.
Rani Karnavati and Emperor Humayun
This episode date back to 1535 C.E. when Rani Karnavati, the widowed queen of the King of Chittor, had sent a Rakhi to Emperor Humayun asking him to protect his kingdom from the invasion of Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujarat. Emperor Humayun was much moved by the feelings of Rani Karnavati and accepted her as his sister. He immediately sent his troops to Chittor to protect Rani Karnavati and his kingdom from the attack of Bahadur Shah. However, Humayun was too late, and Bahadur Shah was able to sack the Rani’s fortress.
When is it celebrated?
The festival of Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on the full moon day in the Shravan month (Shravan Poornima) according to the Hindu Lunisolar Calendar. It typically falls in the month of August.
How is it celebrated?
On the occasion of this festival sisters generally, apply tilak to the forehead of their brothers, tie the sacred thread called Rakhi to the wrist of their brothers and do Arati and pray for their good health & long life. This thread, which represents love and sublime sentiments, is called the ‘Raksha Bandhan’ means ‘a bond of protection’. The brother in return offers a gift to his sister and vows to look after her. Before tying a Rakhi on their brothers hand the sisters first tie a Rakhi on the Tulasi plant. And the another Rakhi on the peepal tree asking for the protection of nature.
Today’s Scenario of Raksha Bandhan:
In today’s scenario, the day has a different perspective. The festival of Raksha Bandhan assumes all forms of Raksha or protection, of righteousness and destroyer of all sin. At present generation, the ritual of Rakhi tying has also been celebrated by students tying Rakhis to Prisoners to bring a change in them.
On Raksha Bandha, every year, school children tie a Rakhi to the President of India at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Each person should celebrate Raksha Bandhan with enthusiasm. On this day frequencies of Lord Ganesh and deity, Saraswati reaches the earth in greater quantities. It is said that when tying the rakhi. The divine Energy principle in the woman gets manifested and is transmitted to the man through the wrist.