RAKSHA BANDHAN – RAKHI BANDHANA (AS ON 7TH AUGUST)
Meaning of ‘Raksha’ is to assure security
Bandhan means a bond or a surety
That a brother bestows
Upon his sister, so valued one
It hardly makes any difference
Whether she is of biological origin
Or just a known human perchance
It could be a knot of thread between neighbors
And other society members
With no consideration of religion
Caste, color or region
This festival is held in the Hindu month of Shravan
Witnessed by the auspicious FULL MOON FROM THE HEAVEN
The RAKSHA BANDHAN is the festival, so pure
When sister ties the sacred thread around her brother’s wrist
She is suffused with sisterly adoration
And awe-inspiring sentiment of brotherly affection
A festival of deep bond of emotion
Wherein a brother promises defence
To his sister from any danger unforeseen
An ultimate ‘bond of protection’ though unwritten
Yet this thread is not an ordinary twine
But solemn word was given.
Purpose is to keep the fabric of society intact
To ensure communal harmony, with no strings attached
History is replete with examples
When Rajputs & Maratha queens sent Rakhis,
To the Mughal kings
And won their sympathies at the time most critical
There is also a story of Alexander the Great’s spouse
Sending a Rakhi to King Porus
Which King Porus reciprocated and respected
By not harming her husband
Such is the sacred strength of Rakhi’s bond.
Such is the power of this ordinary thread,
That it can keep even adversaries united.
O our All-powerful Creator,
Thee who can do anything anywhere,
Knot the world communities with ThouThread, so Holy
So that all live in peace and in harmony.
The word Raksha means an act of protection and bandhan is related to a/bond/or an association. Taken together the two means a relation which ensures/ protection from unpredictable quarters. Raksha Bandhan, in other words, is a bond between brother and sister for bestowing protection to the sister whenever contingency arises – a sacred pledge that he (brother) will fulfill the promise of protection come what may. In return, the sister prays for the wellbeing and prosperity of her brother. It is not merely the case of brother protecting his sister but otherwise also. We have examples of some financial sound but married sisters coming to the succor of their brothers who due to some reasons cannot bear the expenses of their education etc come to the rescue of their brothers.A case in point is of a sister named Aruna Tyagi, aged 50-years, whose brother was done to death by some goons. Despite police complaints and entreaties thereafter, nobody was caught. This lady determined to meet the Chief Minister and justice and for that, she would be traveling 600km for justice! As we ready for Raksha Bandhan, ‘a sister marches 600 Kms for justice is the heading of the news.
Raksha Bandhan is a Hindu festival which highlights the importance of brother-sister relationship. Here, brother-sister may be related biologically or even unrelated. In some parts of India it is simply called Rakhi festival or Rakhi Purnima (falling on the full moon). India is a multi-cultural society, not only Hindus, it is celebrated by Sikhs, Jains etc. The sister ties a (Rakhi thread) sacred thread on the wrist of her brother and the brother, in turn, gives a solemn pledge or promise to the sister to come to her succor at any unforeseen exigencies. A promise which is formulized on RAKHI PURNIMA DAY. This festival falls on full moon day (Shravan Poornima) and that is why it is also called as Raksha Poornima.
The brother-sister relationship is really very sensitive. When brother and sister are biologically connected then they grow up together under the same roof and the parents make them understand the importance of the brother-sister relationship. As the sister, after she grows up, has to leave the home and hearth of her parents after she is married, Rakhi Thread becomes a sacred link between brother and sister to remind each other that there exists somebody to care for him/her. It is, in other words, an emotional bond/link which brings forth the memories of the past days when both brother and sister had lived and brought up together. To say the least, I opine, sisterly love is next the motherly love. A simple woven thread, self-made or purchased from the market with great reverence cements relationship even further between brother and sister.
Some of the salient features of RAKSHA BANDHAN are given below:-
- Raksha Bandhan signifies the love and affection between brother and sister – an emotional link which solidifies the relationship between the two blood-related or otherwise. It may include brother and sister who are not biologically related. Just strangers but they establish a bond by tying a simple twine on the wrist which solidifies the relationship. Sometimes this sister-brother relationship does not take into account the artificial boundaries or barriers of caste, creed, color or religion.
- Brother promises to protect her sister and come to her succor whenever called for besides giving a suitable gift for his sister as a token of love. It could be a sister promising to come to the assistance of a brother in need.
- At the time of tying the knot of sacred thread parents, grandparents and other members of the family ritualistically gather to shower their blessings on brother-sister at a spot where the sister ties the knot of Rakhi to her brother and pray for their well-being and prosperity. Tying of knot of a Rakhi is done in a ceremony by lighting an earthen wick or a candle in a shallow plate. Sister applies tilak or tikka on the forehead of her brother and then ties Rakhi. The purpose of lighting a wick is for the sanctification of RAKSHA BANDHAN in presence of Fire God. Brother gives her gifts and promises to protect her whenever there is a need. Subsequently, the sister prays for the wellbeing and prosperity of her brother. Some sing religious songs in connection with Rakhi festival.
- The sister prays to God for the safety and prosperity of his brother.
- A sacred thread, in the form of Rakhi thread, cements a bond between brother and sister thus establishes goodwill and emotional bond between them two.
- Most importantly, when brother-sister love is affirmed outside the biological relationship then it will enhance inter-faith cohesion and fellow feelings between different castes, religions etc. This practice persisted in the past and is prevalent now as well. Raksha Bandhan evokes feeling of love, respect, and a sense of protection and also engenders a feeling of togetherness between different religions.
- Then there is a practice of sending Rakhi threads made by the school children to the soldiers guarding the borders who could not be with their sisters because of their emergent commitments. These soldiers will naturally feel elated and emotionally suffused by this sacred gesture.
- Self-made Rakhi Threads along with the sweets and gifts are sent to the orphanages for tying to the ones who were not so fortunate to have their brother tying this sacred thread. This also brings the smile on their faces.
- Brothers and sisters who are geographically separated send their Rakhis by post or any other fast means along with the gifts in the form of gift cheque etc. Nowadays, due to the progress of communication owing to the net connect, Rakhis could even be e-Rakhied without wastage of time. What a way to exploit the fast communication! This gesture too keeps the bond of brother-sister love ever blossoming.
- The Prohits self-make Rakhis and distribute amongst their disciples who put these on their writs with fervor. This too is considered as a SHARED TWINE.
Earliest examples of a Rakhi Bandhan prayer is found in VISHNU PURAN: a prayer that Yasoda sung while tying a sacred Rakhi lucky charm on Krishna’s wrist.
May the lord of all beings protect you,
May the one who creates, preserves and dissolves life protect thee.
Historically legend has it that Rajput queens used to send rakhi threads (a scared thread) to other neighbouring rulers in order to show their linkage or relationship and establish a bond of relationship and spread brotherly feeling amongst the neighbourhood and avoid bloodletting on small pretext or misunderstanding of any nature.
There is a legend, Lord Ganesha had two sons named Shubh and Labh. While Ganesh’s sister came to tie a Rakhi around the wrist of Ganesh, his sons became disappointed. They wanted a sister too. Then Narda Muni came and persuaded Lord Ganesha for the same and thus created a daughter by the name of Santoshi Maa by the divine flame emerging from wives named Ridhi and Sidhi who tied Rakhi on the wrists of her brothers Shubh and Labh. There is also a legend in Bhagavata Purana and Vishnu Purana that after Lord Vishnu won the three worlds from demon king Bali, he requested Lord Vishnu along with Maa Lakshmi to stay in his palace. This was not like by Goddess Lakshmi. She had a plan. She tied a Rakhi around the wrist of King Bali and made him his brother. When asked for a gift she asked for the freedom of Lord VISHNU and freed from the promise to live at his palace. Demon king agreed.
In Mahabharata, Lord Krishna considered Draupati as his sister. When there was a cut on his finger while beheading Shushupal, she pierced a piece of her sari and tied it around his injured finger which was bleeding. Krishna took it as a sacred thread (RAKSHA BANDHAN) and bestowed her protection whenever called for the same.
There is also a legend of Yama (the lord of death) and Yamuna (river). Yama, due to pre-occupation could not visit her for 12 long years. She told Ganga for the same. Gangaji mentioned this to Lord Yama. He visited his sister thereafter. Yama was very happy to see his brother after a long time; prepared tasty food for him. On asking for a gift, she extracted a promise that he should visit her year after year. This too is connected with Raksha Bandhan.
May true spirit Raksha Bandhan prevails and creates congenial brotherly feelings amongst the humanity as a whole