Raksha means an act of safeguarding or bestowing protection
Bandhan means relation or connection
While both get united
Becomes Raksha Bandan
An ordinary twine becomes the medium
Thus putting an indelible stamp to cement the relationship
Between brother and sister affection.
Rich in cultural traditions despite some turmoils
India with its wide-ranging festivals
Keeps reminding our general public
Of the importance of the festivals so sacred
Based sometimes by changed seasons
Or some blessed religious occasions
Other times based purely on human emotions
Whilst there is a need to revive relationships.
The RAKSHA BANDHAN is the festival, so dearest
Where sister ties the sacred thread around her brother’s wrist
Which is held in the Hindu month of Shravan or Bhadon
Witnessed by the auspicious full moon from the Heaven
Profuse with sisterly adulation
And awe-inspiring sentiment of brotherly affection
A festival of deep bond of emotion
Wherein a brother promises protection
Of his sister from any danger unforeseen
An ultimate ‘bond of protection’ nonetheless unwritten
Yet this thread is not an ordinary twine
But solemn undertaking given.
Rakhi is not mere a knot between blood related brothers and sisters
It could be a sacred knot between neighbours
And other society members
To keep the fabric of society united
To ensure communal concord
History is replete with quite a lot of instances
Where Rajputs & Maratha queens sent Rankhis
To the Mughal kings
And won their support at the time vcritical
There is also a story of Alexander the Great’s spouse
Sending a Rakhi to King Porus
Which King Porus accepted with a huge respect
And the promise was so fulfilled
By not harming her husband
Such is the sacred Rakhi’s bond.
Such is the power of this ordinary twine
It can keep even adversaries united.
O our All powerful Creator
Thee who is Omnipotent and Omniscient
Knot the world community with thy Holy Thread
So that all live in peace and concord.
RAKSHA BANDHAN (An Ordinary Twine which Unites Souls)
The word Raksha means an act of protection and Bandhan means a relation/connection/tie/bond/association. Taken together the two means a relation which ensures/bestows protection. 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 fulfil the promise of protection come what may. In return, the sister prays for the wellness and prosperity of her brother.
We Indians, like many in other countries of world, are fortunate to have different festivals which we celebrate with religious fervor and devotion. Festivals may be different but there is a commonality of feelings which springs out during these festivals; indeed amazing. That is the beauty which binds us together with a common Thread of Love and Care for each other.
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 brother-sister relationship. As the sister, after she grows up, has to leave the home and hearth of her parents, Rakhi Thread becomes a 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 market with great reverence cements relationship even further between brother and sister.
Raksha Bandhan is a Hindu festival which highlights the importance of brother-sister relationship. Here, brother-sister may be related or biologically unrelated. In some parts of India it is simply called Rakhi festival or Rakhi Purnima (falling on full moon). Indian being 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 eventualities. A promise which is formalized on RAKHI PURNIMA DAY. This festival falls on full moon day (Shravan Poornima) and that is why it is also called as Raksha Poornima.
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE OF RAKSHA BANDHAN
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.
In Manabharta, Lord Krishna considered Draupati as his sister. When there was a cut on his finger while beheading Shushupal, she cuts a piece of her sari and tied it around his injured finger which was bleeding. Krishna took it as a sacred thread (RAKSHNA BANDHAN) and bestowed her protection during her ‘chir haran’ disrobing at the bidding of Prince Dharyodhana the most deceptive in his attitude and behaviour. Taking into account the sacred relationship (brother and sister), Lord Krishna bestowed her protection and did not allow her modesty to be disrobed by the irrational Dharyodhana and his brothers.
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.
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 Rakshna Bandhan.
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.
• 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.
• At the time of tying the knot of sacred thread parents, grand-parents and other members of the family ritualistically gather to shower their blessings on brother-sister at a spot where sister ties 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 a 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 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 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. Now-a-days, due to the progress of communication owing to net, 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 fervour. This too is considered as a SARED TWINE.
May true spirit of Raksha Bandhan prevails and creates affable brotherly feelings amongst the humanity in general so that there is no feeling of hostility amongst peoples around the globe.